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The next proceeding in the case is scheduled for January 31

The method entails police stopping and searching those they consider suspicious

The tactic has been used to deter crime, the NYPD has said

New York CNN  — 

A federal judge in Manhattan on Tuesday ordered the New York Police Department to halt a controversial “stop and frisk” tactic outside a privately owned Bronx apartment building without first having reasonable suspicion, saying the method had crossed the bounds of what could be considered constitutional.

“In sum, while it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside TAP buildings in the Bronx,” Judge Shira Scheindlin said.

She made the statement as part of an interim injunction in a lawsuit brought against the city. The next proceeding in the case is scheduled for January 31.

The much-criticized method, in which police stop and search those they consider suspicious, has been used to deter crime, the police department has said.

But it has also brought on a slew of lawsuits by residents complaining of unlawful stops.

Last year, amid mounting public pressure from advocacy groups, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, in a letter to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, outlined new police policies in an effort to “increase public confidence.”

Under the policies, officers report “stop and frisk” encounters at a local level, and are provided training curriculum and videos, Kelly said. There also are programs reaching out to the community, he said.

Kelly said at the time that the department prohibits racial profiling and aims to ensure a “greater level of scrutiny” by having captains of precincts “personally conducting an audit of the Stop, Question and Frisk report worksheets that have been prepared within his or her command.”

CNN’s Mark Norman contributed to this report.