A U.S. judge has ruled the New York Police Department has violated the rights of tens of thousands of people by intentionally discriminating against racial minorities with its controversial "stop-and-search" policy.
But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city will appeal the decision. He says the possibility of being stopped by police acts as a vital deterrent to crime.
Police say they have made about five million stops during the past decade, mostly of black and Hispanic men.
The judge said the practice has become "a fact of daily life in some New York City neighborhoods," but is flawed because "the stopped population is overwhelmingly innocent, not criminal.'' She said she is not putting an end to the policy, but is reforming it and ordered a court monitor to oversee its use.
City lawyers argued the police department does a good job of monitoring itself.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended the policy by saying the notion the police department engages in racial profiling is "recklessly untrue.''
Legal experts say the ruling on the nation's largest police department may affect how other U.S. police departments operate.