New York Daily News

Judge dread


The courts are marching New Yorkers toward a bloody future with rulings that strip the police of basic powers necessary to protect the public safety. A Manhattan Appellate Division panel on Tuesday issued the latest of these death warrants for the city in a decision that cast aside the law in favor of vindicatin­g personal moral beliefs.

Justice Peter Tom’s decision in the matter of a teenager found in possession of a gun is truly scary. Follow along and put yourself in the position of Police Officer Orlando Colon.

It is 11:30 in the morning on a school day in 2010. Colon is on a team assigned to a Bronx neighborho­od that has been plagued by gun battles between rival youth gangs. He spots a 14-yearold boy, obviously truant, on a streetcorn­er.

From inside a police van parked 10 feet away, Colon sees that the boy has a cell phone in one hand and is examining a black object held at his waist in the other hand. The boy spots the van, places the object in a jacket pocket and begins to walk away.

Colon gets out of the van. The boy stops. When Colon asks the boy where he was coming from and what he was doing, the boy answers that he is going to visit his brother in an apartment that is in gang-controlled territory.

Colon then asks what the boy had in his hand. The boy, appearing nervous, responds that he has his wallet in a back pocket. Colon says he wants to know instead what the boy put in his jacket. When the boy reaches toward his back pocket, Colon tells him to keep his hands out of his pocket to be sure that the boy will not produce a weapon.

At that point, Colon taps the boy’s jacket, feels something hard that could be a weapon, reaches in and finds a gun. The boy is arrested.

There is no question that Colon executed a valid arrest.

He had solid reasons for stopping a kid who was truant and who was was hanging out in the vicinity of gang shootouts.

Then, he had reasonable grounds for additional suspicion of criminalit­y when the boy was nervous and evasive.

Then, he had excellent cause for fearing that his life could be in jeopardy if the teenager was, in fact, armed.

The stop was textbook, and so was the frisk. But these days, judges like Tom have concluded — based only on the public debate — that the NYPD’s highly effective program of stopping, questionin­g and sometimes frisking people is an unconstitu­tional invasion of rights.

In ordering that the gun could not be used as evidence against the boy, Tom and two colleagues cavalierly and offensivel­y concluded that Colon had fabricated being worried for his safety. They also made clear where their sympathies rested by noting that a federal judge has okayed a class-action suit against the NYPD over the stop, question and frisk effort.

Two dissenting judges, Rosalyn Richter and Sheila Abdus-Salaam, got it just right in stating that under the circumstan­ces, it was absurd to ask Colon to bear the risk that the teen was armed — as so many were in that neighborho­od, as so many are in many neighborho­ods.

City lawyers will appeal this decision to the state’s highest court. Pray that they win there — no sure thing, because Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has already expressed his misgivings about the NYPD’s tactic.

If they lose, short of witnessing an actual crime, cops will be left with very limited rights both to question anyone and frisk someone who quite obviously could be armed and dangerous. Give that job instead to Tom and his fellow partners in judicial crime, Karla Moskowitz and Nelson Roman.

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