A few days ago the Obama Administration came out in support of a court appointed monitor in the event that stop and frisk is struck down. New York’s Stop and Frisk trial is nearly over and the city only awaits the judge’s verdict, which will be delivered sometime in the next few months.
It’s been a contentious trial with attorneys opposed to stop and frisk alleging that the practice amounts to racial profiling. The vast majority of stops involve Black and Latino men and boys, and 9 out of 10 were neither arrested nor ticketed.
Recently, Sunita Patel, staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel on the stop-and-frisk lawsuit, spoke on Democracy Now to talk about the Justice Department’s decision to appoint an independent monitor. “And here [NYC], there isn’t an internal system of accountability. There isn’t an external system of accountability. And the Justice Department is basically saying that you can’t—the police cannot be trusted to police themselves.”
The court appointed monitor would make sure that the judge’s rulings are being enforced. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg thought this was a “terrible idea” and upon hearing the news said, “I don’t know what experience they have in the streets of New York City.”
This type of order from the Justice Department is not uncommon in civil rights cases. However, I can think of another instance when a court appointed, independent monitor could be a lifesaver.
Chicago has been labeled America’s deadliest city and doctors have even called the violence a public health crisis. If Chicago’s police department had an independent observer, perhaps the police department would be held to a higher standard to stop the murders. The Chicago Police Department is clearly not able to do its job- and the local schools and community organizations are no match for the scale of the violence either.
Most of these homicides occur in neighborhoods on the south and west sides of Chicago- neighborhoods that have literally been torn apart by violence. The citizens of NYC cannot be expected to police their own police department. Neither can Chicagoans. Attorney General Eric Holder did the right thing for NYC and now he should feel obligated to step in and protect Chicagoan’s right to life.