The New York Police Department deliberately violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers with its stop-and-frisk policy, and an independent monitor is needed to oversee major changes, a federal judge ruled Monday, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin says she was not putting an end to the policy – which the mayor and police commissioner defend as a life-saving, crime-fighting tool – but rather reforming it. The independent monitor would develop reforms to policies, training, supervisions, monitoring and discipline, AP reports.

"The city's highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner," she wrote. "In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting 'the right people' is racially discriminatory."

She also cited violations of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Stop-and-frisk is a constitutional police tactic, but Scheindlin concludes that the plaintiffs (11 men and one woman) had established that the NYPD implements its stop-and-frisk policies in a way that intentionally discriminates based on race, the article says.

There have been about 5 million stops in the past decade – mostly black and Hispanic men. The judge says she determined at least 200,000 stops were made without reasonable suspicion.