Stop and frisk is legal, but the lawyers who sued say it must be reformed. They are asking for a court-appointed monitor to oversee any changes ordered by the judge.
About half the people who are stopped are subject only to questioning. Others have their bag or backpack searched. And sometimes police conduct a full pat-down. Only about 10 percent of all stops result in arrest, and a weapon is recovered a small fraction of the time.
The mayor and police commissioner say stop and frisk is a life-saving, crime-stopping tool that has helped drive crime down to record lows. Officers have more than 23 million contacts with the public, make 4 million radio runs and issue more than 500,000 summonses every year. Comparatively, 600,000 stops annually are not unreasonable, city lawyers said.
On Monday, the teenage son of a former police officer, Devin Almonor, said that he was handcuffed by officers after they stopped him walking back to his apartment in 2010 when he was 13 years old. David Floyd, 33, the lawsuit's namesake, testified about two encounters, one in 2007 where he was frisked while walking home, and the second about a year later where he was frisked outside of his apartment.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who has already said in earlier rulings that she is deeply concerned about the tactic, has the power to order reforms to how it is used, which could bring major changes to the nation's largest police force and other departments.
City lawyers said the department already has many checks and balances, including an independent watchdog group that was recently given authority to prosecute some excessive force complaints against police. The police commissioner still has the final say on whether officers are disciplined.
In Albany on Tuesday, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said restrictions on stop-and-frisk were among the few remaining issues in closed-door negotiations over the state budget.