Police officers are violating the Fourth Amendment rights of people stopped on suspicion of trespass as they walk into and out of privately owned buildings that participate in a Bronx, N.Y., anti-crime program formerly known as Operation Clean Halls, a federal judge ruled yesterday, the New York Law Journal Reports. Judge Shira Scheindlin issued a preliminary injunction ordering police "immediately to cease performing trespass stops" without reasonable suspicion of actual trespass at thousands of buildings whose owners have given police permission to patrol their property under the Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP).
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the ruling "unnecessarily interferes with the department's efforts to use all of the crime-fighting tools necessary to keep Clean Halls buildings safe and secure." Scheindlin's decision, the latest in a series of rulings in hotly contested litigation over the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk policies, comes after a hearing during which Scheindlin heard from individual plaintiffs—all black or Latino—who claimed they had done nothing wrong and were stopped without reasonable suspicion as they entered or exited a TAP building. "While it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside TAP buildings in the Bronx," Scheindlin said.