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fe[JURIST] deral judge ruled earlier this week that the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk practices are unconstitutional. To be clear, stop-and-frisk practice has not been eradicated; it will simply be reformed to bring the practice within constitutional limits. Judge Shira Scheindlin emphasized that the litigation was strictly to "judge the constitutionality of police behavior" and not to assess stop-and-frisk's overall "effectiveness as a law enforcement tool." As with any government measure, stop-and-frisk requires a balancing act between personal liberty and public safety. All stops must be based on reasonable suspicion. As the US Supreme Court has ruled, and as Judge Scheindlin reiterated, reasonable suspicion must be supported by articulable facts that criminal activity may be afoot. The standard is objective, making the officer's subjective intent irrelevant. In reality, however, the standard for reasonable suspicion has been virtually ignored by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and as a result, thousands of law abiding citizens are being stopped and often harassed simply because of their race and location. The Center for Constitutional Rights reports [PDF] that aggressive stop-and-frisk practices often perpetuate "widespread civil and human rights abuses, including illegal profiling, improper arrests, inappropriate touching, sexual harassment, humiliation and violence at the hands of police officers." These abuses have long lasting effects on the emotional, psychological, social and economic well-being of those targeted by the police.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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