Monday, July 19, 2010

Governor Paterson Restricts Use of Stop-and-Frisk Data

While the abuse of communities of color through rampant stop-and-frisk activity targeting innocent New Yorkers will continue under the Bloomberg Administration, Governor Paterson has courageously signed legislation ending the practice of retaining the information collected in the abusive stop-and-frisk incidents. In the past, it had been held in perpetuity.


The stop-and-frisk record of the current Mayor is inexcusable. We have highlighted several times how outrageous that stop-and-frisk record is.

The current Mayor supports a policy of stopping innocent people of color in record numbers. The stops keep increasing despite the fact that approximately 90% of those stopped are persons of color and the fact that approximately 90% of those stopped are not arrested. In some communities of color, the number of stops in each of the last four years is more than the size of the population.

In New York City, an innocent white resident has a 2.6% chance of being stopped by the police, while an innocent Black resident has a 21.1% chance of being stopped by the police. In only 15% of the stops was the "fit the description" excuse used by the NYPD. In reality, the NYPD's own excuses for stopping innocent New Yorkers are in almost all other circumstances that the victim of the stop was acting suspiciously.

In communities of color, the Mayor's approach has fostered unnecessary tension and animosity between the community and the police. That tension and lack of trust endangers New Yorkers and promotes crime. Because they are routinely abused by the police, communities of color are less likely to cooperate with police, and criminals are emboldened by the knowledge that the community and the police are not coordinated and do not trust each other. Criminals are more dangerous when they know that the communities they plan to victimize are already being victimized by the police. Communities of color suffer as a result of this dynamic, and we are already seeing crime rates rising as well as increasing numbers of crimes going unsolved as a result of the Mayor's racist policing formula.

The End of the Database

While the Mayor has not been held accountable for the poor policing, racism, and destructive nature of his stop-and-frisk approach, the State Legislature and the Governor have taken action against the Mayor's database of innocent New Yorkers of color.

Until now, every one of the more than 500,000 innocent people stopped each year by the NYPD has had his or her information stored in a database controlled by the NYPD. That approach has resulted in law suits and additional anger in communities of color. In a classic case of adding insult to injury, the database consists of the personal information of people who have been abused by the NYPD.

Last week, Governor Paterson signed legislation eliminating the NYPD database of innocent people of color.

While the leadership of the NYPD attempted to argue that the elimination of the database of innocent people would cause increased crime, common sense suggests otherwise. It is disgraceful that the NYPD would state that innocent people of color need to be catalogued in a database as if all people of color are destined to be criminals; as if having a record of the movements of innocent people of color will help the NYPD arrest them when they inevitably turn to crime.

In truth, the best way to prevent crime is to make the NYPD less of an abusive force in the lives of New Yorkers. Perhaps the elimination of the database will help convince the Mayor to turn the NYPD toward protecting New Yorkers instead of abusing them.

Today, we salute the New York State Legislature and Governor Paterson for improving lives and for standing up to the Mayor of New York City.

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