Frisked and Stopped

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New York City It's a jarring statistic: some 4.4 million people, most of them black or Hispanic, were stopped by New York City police from 2004 to 2012 under a crime-fighting tactic known as stop and frisk. Mayor Michael Bloomberg argues that the practice contributed to the more than 30% drop in major crimes during his 12-year tenure. But that wasn't enough to overcome the doubts of a federal judge, who found that the NYPD engaged in "indirect racial profiling" and declared the practice unconstitutional on Aug. 12. The ruling does not end stop and frisk; the judge appointed a monitor to oversee reforms to the program, like having some officers wear cameras. And it may compel police departments around the country to re-examine their tactics. A legal battle is likely--Bloomberg has vowed to appeal, though it will be up to his successor to continue the fight or accept federal oversight when the next mayor takes over in January. "This is a first step in a chess game that is going to have a hundred different moves throughout governments and police administration," says Frank Zimring, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, law school. "It could work out well. It could go badly."