Police unions should be able to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy violated civil rights even though the city no longer wants to fight, union lawyers argued Wednesday.
A lower court judge has said the unions did not signal soon enough their wish to be included in the case, heard last year in federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled after a 10-week civil trial that the NYPD’s stop, question and frisk policy sometimes discriminated against minorities. She ordered sweeping reforms and installed a monitor to oversee the changes.
Then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration appealed her decision, but Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped the appeal when he came into office this year. The police unions want to continue the fight.
The unions believe the ruling damaged their officers’ reputations, their lawyers told a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The judges peppered the attorneys with challenges. Judge Barrington Parker Jr. said it would be highly unusual for an appeal to proceed when the actual parties have agreed to settle.
It’s a new regime “that wants its police department to behave differently,” Parker said. “It’s a part of the democratic process.”
“You can’t rewind the clock to what it was before the de Blasio administration took office,” Judge John Walker Jr. said.