City opposes mediation in stop-and-frisk suits
New York City on Thursday rebuffed a proposal for voluntary court-supervised mediation of disputes over its stop-and-frisk tactics of the sort that succeeded in producing a consensus on similar issues in Cincinnati.
The mediation was proposed Monday by plaintiffs in three Manhattan federal court lawsuits challenging NYPD tactics, and raised at a hearing by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlen. Officers, police officials, academic experts, and religious and community leaders guided by a court-appointed facilitator would have had 90 days to try to agree.
"The city opposes" the approach, city lawyer Heidi Grossman told Scheindlen. "This was a voluntary procedure in the Cincinnati case, and we don't think it's appropriate to be ordered to do this."
The three cases challenge NYPD practices in public housing, in private apartment buildings with police patrols, and in citywide street patrols. Scheindlen has signaled support for the claims, and a trial on the broad citywide challenge is scheduled for March.
The proposed mediation would have focused on remedies if the judge finds the city is violating the Constitution. Grossman offered no explanation except to say that the city disagreed with Scheindlen's views on the type of police activities subject to constitutional stop-and-frisk rules.
Plaintiffs in the cases said mediation could produce reforms more acceptable to police and more quickly than a judge's decree followed by an appeal. The city law department refused to elaborate on why it opposed the idea.