NEW YORK CITY — A visibly irate Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted a federal judge's ruling that sought to curtail the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactic Monday, promising to appeal the order as soon as possible.
Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Monday morning that the NYPD violated thousands of New Yorkers' constitutional rights through its controversial stop-and-frisk tactics. The mayor pushed back hours later saying the ruling would undercut a valuable crime fighting tool.
"This is a very dangerous decision made by a judge who I believe does not understand what good policing is," Bloomberg said at a Monday afternoon press conference at City Hall, flanked by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Law Department Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo.
"I worry for my kids and I worry for your kids," he continued. "Crime can come back any time criminals think they can get away with things. We just cannot let that happen."
Cardozo, the city's top lawyer, said city officials plan to meet with the court-appointed monitor, former prosecutor and ex-top lawyer for the city Peter Zimroth, and draw up an appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals as soon as possible after that.
Bloomberg accused Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin of being biased against the city from the start, adding that she gave helpful advice to the plaintiffs and exhibited "disturbing disregard for the good intentions of our police officers."
He pointed out that no federal judge has ever imposed a monitor on a police department based on a civil trial.
"One small group of advocates and one judge conducted their own investigation and it was pretty clear from the start which way it would go," Bloomberg said. "Throughout the case, we didn’t believe we were getting a fair trial. We will be pointing that out to the appeals court."
Bloomberg added that he was glad that most of the appeal work would likely take place after the end of his term, saying, "I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a lot of people dying."
The majority of Bloomberg's likely replacements — including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — vowed to drop any appeal the city files against the judge's ruling.
Kelly dismissed Scheindlin's ruling that the NYPD engaged in racial profiling, calling it "recklessly untrue.
"We do not engage in racial profiling. That is against the law, and that is against policy. Race is never a reason to conduct a stop."
Kelly also took issue with Scheindlin's finding that the majority of the stop-and-frisks never lead to charges, saying much of the police intervention happens before a crime is ever committed.
"When a police officer stops and makes inquiry of an individual about to burglarize a location, the officer has stopped the burglary," Kelly said, "When an officer stops and makes an inquiry of people looking to strong-arm a bodega, they have stopped a burglary, or worse."
He said he was confident any monitor over the police department would "only document what we have known all along. That the NYC police department saves lives, and that it trains its officers to do so lawfully and with full respect for the constitution that protects us all."
At a separate press conference in Midtown on Monday, the defendants who brought the case and their lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights hailed the Judge's decision.
"The reason why I joined this case is because for many of us, including myself, feel like stop-and-frisk is police abuse," said Lalit Clarkson, 31, a teacher at the Grand Concourse Academy Charter School in The Bronx who was stopped near the school on a lunch break in 2006.
"And that's the lowest level of police abuse," he added. "And once police abuse power when it comes to stop-and-frisk then they can do it in terms of falsely arresting people. They can do it in terms of planting evidence, and in the most extreme cases they can do it in terms of killing people," Clarkson added, referring to police-involved shootings and other fatal incidents.
"If we can find remedies to stop police abuse, it’s a first step. If we can take care of this, maybe the highest forms of police abuse will slowly fade away."
Center for Constitutional Rights lead attorney Darius Charney, who argued before Judge Scheindlin, praised the defendants for stepping forward.
"They were doing this not because they were trying to recover any money or any kind of financial compensation. They did this because they believed what the NYPD was doing was wrong and they wanted it to stop," Charney said Monday. "It's because of their courage, and you will see it in the opinion when you read it, that this judge decided this also had to stop."