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Stop-and-frisk lawsuit could lead to federal oversight of New York City police -report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department notified New York City officials on Wednesday that it plans to ask a federal judge for oversight of the city's police department if she determines its controversial stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional, according to a news report.

The New York Daily News report comes after the conclusion of a 10-week federal civil trial on the practice by New York City police of stopping people they suspect of unlawful activity and frisking those they suspect are carrying weapons.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin is expected to rule in the coming weeks.

Defenders of the tactics, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say the practice has helped to reduce crime. Opponents contend that stop-and-frisk targets minorities and violates their Fourth Amendment rights for protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment. A spokesman for the New York Police Department was not immediately available late Wednesday.

Bloomberg spokesman John McCarthy said the office has not seen any papers yet but the administration continues to support the city's police department.

Overall police stops have shot up sharply during Bloomberg's administration - from 160,851 in 2003, Bloomberg's first year in office, to 685,724 in 2011. About half of the 2011 stops resulted in searches.

The lawsuit was filed in 2008 by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of four black men who said they were stopped based on their race.

The case is David Floyd et al v. The City of New York, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-1034.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani and David Ingram; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Lisa Shumaker)

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