Policies can come and go quickly, which is why it is imperative that training is continuous and reflects changing standards. In New York, controversy is brewing over the New York Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policy.
What was the ruling on the NYPD stop and frisk policy
The NYPD's stop and frisk program that targeted people for stops based on looking of suspicious has been recently ruled by a federal district judge as a violation of a person's Fourth and Fourteenth amendment rights, reported Fierce Homeland Security. Each stop under this policy was referred to as a Terry stop from the 1968 Terry v. Ohio Supreme Court case that established that police may stop and frisk any individual on a standard of reasonable suspicion. While the stop and frisk policy in NYC was in place between January 2004 and June 2012, more than 4.4 million Terry stops were conducted – 52 percent involved a black person, 31 percent were made up of Hispanic people and 10 percent involved white people.
Meanwhile, during 2010, the racial composition of New York City was approximately 23 percent black, 29 percent Hispanic and 33 percent white. Such disparities in the percentage of those races frisked and the racial composition of the city shows reasonable cause for concern, according to the ruling from Judge Shira Scheindlin of the U.S. Southern District of New York, reported the news source.
"There is no basis for assuming that an innocent population shares the same characteristics as the criminal suspect population in the same area," she writes. "[The people] may wonder: If the police believe that a particular group of people is disproportionately responsible for crime in one area, why should the police not target that group with increased stops?"
Scheindlin went on to say that the Fourteenth Amendments makes sure that the police can not target a racially defined group simply because that group shows up frequently in police department suspect data.
What this change in law means for the NYPD
The change in policy was quick, however, for officers who have been working under this policy for years, it can sometimes be difficult to switch mentalities without training. It's important that officers know how they are supposed to conduct themselves to fit the changing times to avoid litigation. Tracking training to ensure that every officer receives the appropriate instruction on how to avoid racial profiling and react appropriately in delicate situations. Also important is the department's ability to ensure that all officers have been trained to the current version of the policy. This is essential for legally defensible records to avoid future litigation. By tracking training, a law enforcement department can better protect itself and its officers in lawsuits.
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