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New York Post

 

Shira's Ignorance

May 31, 2013

By Heather Mac Donald

Judge clueless on policing

Roughly 12 percent of the pedestrian stops made by the NYPD result in an arrest or a summons. US District Judge Shira Scheindlin clearly believes that that number is too low and that it demonstrates NYPD abuse of blacks and Hispanics, who constitute the majority of stop subjects.

Presiding over Floyd v. New York, the marathon stop-question-and-frisk trial against the department that finished last week, Scheindlin frequently echoed another longstanding conceit of the anti-cop advocates: that every person who is not arrested or summonsed after a stop is by definition innocent of any wrongdoing, and has by implication been unconstitutionally stopped.

Expect to see the allegedly “low” rates of post-stop arrests and summonses figure prominently in Scheindlin’s ruling.

Yet Scheindlin, who has no policing experience whatsoever, has no idea what a proper stop-to-arrest ratio should be, nor has any court ever weighed in on the matter. Nor did the the lead attorneys in the case (the Center for Constitutional Rights and the elite law firm of Covington & Burling) offer any testimony on the constitutionality of any arrest and summons rates; they merely claimed that a 12 percent ratio represents an abuse of policing power.

So, if Scheindlin rules that that rate is illegal, she’ll be legislating in an area about which she knows nothing and with no evidentiary record on which to base her ruling.

Let’s review the facts.

First of all, just because someone is not arrested following a stop does not mean that he was not preparing for or engaged in a crime:

* If a cop sees someone trying the door handles of cars parked along a street, for example, the officer may have no grounds to make an arrest for auto theft after questioning him, but that individual may in fact have been looking to steal a car. Presumably, Scheindlin herself would want an officer to intervene if he observed such behavior on her block.

* If a public-housing project has experienced a series of sexual assaults in its elevators and stairwells and an officer sees someone loitering nervously in a lobby who then quickly follows a woman up a stairwell, that officer can’t preemptively arrest him for sexual assault — but stopping and questioning him could well avert a crime.

Moreover, even if someone is wholly innocent of wrongdoing, that doesn’t mean that the stop was unjustified — though it does mean that the officer must do everything in his power to explain the grounds for what can be a humiliating, infuriating experience.

Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/shira_ignorance_QMl2M3DPDQ8g6tHTcX1DQJ

 

 
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