NEW YORK (AP) - A federal appeals court on Friday denied a last-ditch effort by police unions to continue challenging a decision that the New York Police Department violated the civil rights of minorities with its stop, question and frisk policy, clearing the way for reforms to begin.
Lawyers for the unions argued before a three-judge panel two weeks ago that they should be able to continue the appeal even though the city no longer wanted to fight. A lower court judge has said the unions filed their brief too late.
Then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration appealed her decision, but Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped the appeal when he took office this year, making good on a campaign pledge. The judges said Friday that allowing the appeal to proceed would have interfered with the voice of the public.
“In other words, granting the unions’ motions in the wake of the November 2013 mayoral election would essentially condone a collateral attack on the democratic process,” the judges wrote.
Departmental reforms have been on hold during the appeal process but may now begin, unless the unions decide to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their argument.
“The PBA will continue to monitor actions taken in this process moving forward to ensure that they do not violate the rights of NYC police officers,” Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the NYPD’s largest union, said Friday.
Meanwhile, the NYPD already has started implementing on its own some of the suggestions made in the ruling. For example, the form officers fill out to record a stop and frisk is being revised. Officers already receive training on how to properly stop someone.
Lawyers for the city now say they’re ready to turn the page. They say it will take five years to reform the process, three under a court monitor and two with the city’s new inspector general overseeing reforms.