Monday, August 6, 2012

Slowing Stop and Frisk

After repeated increases, the number of stop and frisk incidents declined 25% in the second quarter of 2012 compared with 2011. The reasons for the decline are many.


Ever since Bloomberg became Mayor, the tactic of stopping and frisking innocent New Yorkers has become an obsession for NYC law enforcement. The number of stops has risen from less than 100,000 in the pre-Bloomberg era to nearly 700,000 last year. Nearly 90% of those stopped are Black or Hispanic, but white residents who are stopped are more than twice as likely to be carrying illegal weapons or drugs. More than 90% of those stopped are not issued a summons or arrested. Even in low-crime neighborhoods and white neighborhoods, Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are stopped in far larger number than their population would suggest appropriate. These stops are a terrorist tactic adopted by Mayor Bloomberg and used as the primary law enforcement approach by the NYPD.

Recently, a federal judge certified a class action suit against NYC based on the stop and frisk abuses, and a silent march was held in June on Father's Day to protest the tactic and to seek its end.

Declining Abuse

The protest and the class action suit seem to be having an impact on law enforcement tactics.

In the months, of April, May, and June of 2012, NYPD officers conducted 25% less stops than in the same period in 2011. But, the number of stops was still a sky-high 133,000. We cannot accept these outrageous tactics. The 25% decline is not nearly enough. NYC is still on pace to have more than 600,000 stops in 2012, and such a performance would reinforce the need for the Mayor and the police commissioner to resign.

The NYPD is claiming that the decline in stop and frisk incidents is a result of changes in the NYPD's placement of rookies. The NYPD states that rookies have been placed in high crime areas and told to stop any suspicious people and that rookies are now being placed elsewhere. The approach of making rookies the engine of the stop and frisk abuses is itself outrageous. They learn, early in their careers, to abuse residents of color and to over-emphasize stopping innocent people rather than identifying criminals or reducing crime.

Letitia James, a critic of stop-and-frisk, isn't buying the NYPD's rationale. "I reject their reason for the reduction in stop and frisks. The reduction in stop and frisks is directly related to the criticism of the practice, of the abuse of the practice."

Officers tell WNYC that the 2nd quarter drop was expected, due to a reluctance by cops to conduct stops under growing controversy about the tactic.

The New York Civil Liberties Union said it was encouraged by the data. “This reduction is a good start, but much more needs to be done to rebuild community trust and protect New Yorkers from illegal and racially biased street stops,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement.
Let's hope that the "much more" Donna Lieberman wishes for will come in short order.

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