Long before a national spotlight was cast on the long-standing, tempestuous relationship between police and the Black and Brown communities they occupy, New York City was in the limelight for its racially discriminatory policing practices. In 2013, Federal District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the manner in which the NYPD stopped and frisked New Yorkers violated the Fourth (to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures) and Fourteenth Amendment (which prohibits racial discrimination) rights of a class of New Yorkers, mostly young, Black and Latino men. She went on to order immediate changes to the NYPD’s policies and practices around stop and frisk and appointed a federal monitor to oversee the implementation of the court-ordered reforms. However, with infinite wisdom, Judge Scheindlin noted that:
The communities most affected by the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk have a distinct perspective that is highly relevant to crafting effective reforms. No amount of legal or policing expertise can replace a community’s understanding of the likely practical consequences of reforms in terms of both liberty and safety.
To this end, the judge ordered that the communities most impacted by stop and frisk be able to weigh in on crafting reforms. Modeled after the collaborative process that took place in Cincinnati between police and impacted communities, the Floyd Joint Remedial Process was contemplated as the stage on which impacted communities would have their voices heard.
The long-awaited Joint Remedial Process is now underway. On Monday the facilitator, retired Judge Ariel Belen, met with his advisory committee. The facilitator’s advisory committee is comprised of multiple stakeholders, including community groups and former plaintiffs. The advisory committee is only one aspect of the Joint Remedial Process. The facilitator will also be conducting focus groups and town forums over several months, to get input from community members impacted by stop and frisk. Once the facilitator has gathered a good deal of information from impacted communities and other stakeholders, he will make recommendations to the monitor based on that information. The facilitator’s recommendations, if adopted by the monitor, will be implemented, in addition to the reforms ordered by the court.
We remain hopeful that this process will uplift community voices and be robust in terms of the possible reforms that come out of it. These communities do not need more of the same--they need real changes.