Eyewitness News

Stop and Frisk ruling

Monday, August 12, 2013
Bill Ritters daily take on the news.

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

Indirect racial profiling that's unconstitutional.

That ruling today by a federal judge against "stop and frisk," one of the backbones of Mayor Bloomberg's and the NYPD's anti-crime strategy. A blistering rebuke to the nation's largest police force, and another political hand grenade in the argument over stop and frisk as an effective crime fighting tactic.

There are some who argue that stop and frisk isn't the reason crime is down  not in New York or in any other city. And there are others like the Mayor and Police Commissioner Kelly who say it's an important reason for crime's delay.

And then there are many others who see the middle ground of this argument that stop and frisk has a legitimate role in law enforcement strategy (as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled) but that racial profiling does not. Despite the Commish's insistence today that the NYPD does NOT racially profile, the judge today ruled that the evidence is to the contrary.

(As an aside, my use of "Commish" is an informal and, for me, endearing term. I had a close friend who was a New York City commissioner of an important department, and she knew all too well that when I called her commish, it was mean in the most friendly way. I bring this up because last week I referred to Mr. Kelly as "commish" and was berated on Facebook for being disrespectful. On the contrary, I and many others, see it as an endearing nickname. I'm just sayin'.)

Tonight, the Mayor is vowing to appeal the federal ruling.

The stop and frisk debate is flammable fodder in the race for New York Mayor, and today the candidates are weighing in. We'll have the latest, and reaction, tonight at 11.

And the Democrats who want to be the next Mayor of New York will be asked about the stop and frisk ruling, during our debate tomorrow night, on Ch. 7, at 7 p.m. I hope you can watch.

Before a put a "dash 30 dash" on this column, a personal note. One year ago tomorrow, a giant of a man collapsed out front of our studios and, just like that, died. Ted Holtzclaw, our manager of news operations, was quite a guy. He was just 53, and as tragic as his death, and as sad as we still are, I keep thinking about something I said at his funeral; that he would be happy that, when his time came, he didn't hurt anybody when he died. He wasn't behind the wheel, driving his family (his talented and caring wife Verna, or their young son Harrison), and he didn't land on anyone (he was a towering figure).

We're going to gather tomorrow in the atrium of our newsroom, just like we did a year ago, when our boss, Dave Davis, told us that Ted had died, and we'll remember this colleague, this friend. I'm thinking about what I want to say, and I'm realizing that I really should speak the words that Ted would want me to say. And so I think I'm going to talk about how he left behind such a strong legacy that, while we miss him every day, we haven't missed a beat in the coverage that he made happen for so many years.

And then I'm going say the one thing I regret not saying to Ted, in all the years I worked with him, in all the far-flung locations and in all the nutso situations. I never told him I loved him. And I did. And I still do. And, one year later, it still seems so damn unfair.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Jeff Smith, in for Lee Goldberg, with his AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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