Monday, April 23, 2012

Yale Offers an Alternative to Stop and Frisk

Mayor Bloomberg's brutally racist stop-and-frisk approach to law enforcement in NYC has not reduced crime. Now, a Yale professor and his student propose that NYC use an approach that has worked elsewhere.

Stop and Frisk Is a Failure

We know that Stop and Frisk does not work. Looking at murder rates and stop and frisk incidents shows that crime has not declined during the era of intense stopping and frisking of young men of color in our city. In fact, the Bloomberg approach, and its Apartheid-based vision in which all young men of color are investigated as criminals on a daily basis with probable cause being merely their combination of youth and skin color, has caused great pain and suffering in communities of color while not improving the safety in those communities.
[A]lthough the stop-and-frisk rate increased six fold, the murder rate continued the same slight rate of decline during the last decade as it has since 1997.
Mayor Bloomberg and his police chief Ray Kelly defend stop and frisk tactics by using the "big lie" that stop and frisk reduces crime. They know it does not reduce crime, yet they increase the number of young men of color who are stopped each year. They vocally and forcefully defend the practice as if their minds have been replaced by the mind of Bull Connor.

Many New Yorkers have given up on attempting to "talk sense into" Bloomberg and Kelly, and the conventional wisdom is that people of color will continue to suffer until a new Mayor takes office in 2014.

We should not give up so easily. Bloomberg undoubtedly wants to have a positive legacy, and he likely could be convinced that having a legacy of being more racist than Rudy Giuliani will be less and less attractive as the years pass. Bull Connor was controversial in his time. Today, he is the epitome of race-hatred. Years from now, Bloomberg will be viewed as the staunchest defender and promoter of institutionalized racism in the United States in the early years of the 21st Century. He must have moments when he'd rather be viewed as a positive force. Also, there is no guarantee that Bloomberg will not seek to be Mayor for at least another four years. He might try to stay in office to position himself for new opportunities, and he might decide that only he will keep stop and frisk in place. Bloomberg has changed the term limits in the past, and his wealth allows him to scare off potential challengers. Bloomberg might be the Mayor for the rest of his life, and young men of color should assume that Bloomberg's life will be long - far too long to wait for the end the of the Apartheid approach that he brought with him.

So, we need to keep telling the truth. We need to keep up the pressure. Mayor Bloomberg must end his racist approach to policing or resign. There is no middle ground, and we cannot assume that the Bloomberg nightmare ends in 2014. There is no firm expiration date for stop and frisk. It will end only when we raise our voices and make Mayor Bloomberg, Ray Kelly, and their Bull Connor brains choose a new direction.

Yale Professors Offer an Alternative

A new direction is what is offered by a Yale professor and his student.

It would be new for Bloomberg, but it is what worked to reduce crime in NYC previously. It was brought to New York City by Mayor Dinkins. It has worked in Boston and Seattle as well as in may other parts of the United States.

What the Yale professor and his student call "focused deterrents" relies on the community and the police force developing a positive relationship. In NYC, Bloomberg and Kelly have turned police and the community into enemies. They have demanded that the police abuse the innocent people in the community when the police should have been protecting the innocent and building trust in the process.

Developed by the criminologist David M. Kennedy, focused deterrence is in many ways the opposite of stopping and frisking large sections of the population. Beginning with the recognition that a small cohort of young men are responsible for most of the violent crime in minority neighborhoods, it targets the worst culprits for intensive investigation and criminal prosecution.
Focused deterrence also builds up community trust in the police, who are now going after the real bad guys instead of harassing innocent bystanders in an effort to score easy arrests. . .
Rather than sweep through and stop large numbers of young black men, the police built strong relationships with residents, promising greater responsiveness if they took back the reins of their community and told their sons, nephews and grandsons that the violence and the overt dealing must end.

"Going after the real bad guys" is what we seek.

If the NYPD will end its terrorizing of innocent people and collaborate with the community to "go after the real bad guys", we can reduce crime and save Bloomberg from a Bull Connor legacy at the same time.

1 comment:

  1. Stop and Frisk was never meant to reduce crime. Its goal was to get our youngters in their system.
    " Bloomberg undoubtedly wants to have a positive legacy, and he likely could ..." In Bloomberg's and Kelly's minds a positive legacy WOULD be to torment and punish people of color. That, to them, is success.