In an interview Tuesday on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was jokingly asked about stop and frisk. Kelly stated that while there will be tension in regard to policing, the police’s relationship with the communities it serves is “better than it’s ever been.”
Monday’s release of stop-and-risk data begs to differ.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) released a comprehensive report of data for its stop-and-frisk activities for 2011 Monday night. A full release of stop, question and frisk data for each year since 2003 has been made available on the NYPD’s website.
New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement: “While it appears at first blush to be a slick, fact-filled response, nothing in the report can dispute the reality that stop and frisk NYPD-style is targeted overwhelmingly at people of color, so innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, that all but 12 percent walk away without so much as a ticket.”
The data shows that 685,724 individuals were detained for “reasonable suspicion.” This number represents 8.6 percent of the population of the city. Of those stopped, 53 percent were Black, 34 percent were Latino, 9 percent were White and 3 percent were Asian. This contrasts with the city’s demographics at the time: 23.4 percent Black, 29.4 percent Hispanic, 34.9 percent White and 12.9 percent Asian.
According to the report, Brooklyn’s 75th district, which includes East New York and Cypress Hills, had the most stop-and-frisk incidents at 31,000. Ninety-seven percent of these stops involved Black or Hispanic suspects.
The 75th district, at the time, was 55.5 percent Black, 37.9 percent Hispanic, 3.5 percent White and 5.1 percent Asian.
The top reason given for stop-and-frisk stops in 2011 was suspicion of possessing a weapon. This accounts for more than 25 percent of all stops.
Based on New York State Criminal Procedure Law section 140.50, stop and frisk — also known as a Terry stop — has became infamous under New York City’s aggressive and seemingly unfair use of the procedure. Kelly has held to the notion that stop and frisk is an effective policing tool “not unlike what other cities do.”
“New York City continues to be the safest big city in America, and one of the safest of any size, with significantly less crime per capita … than even small cities,” the NYPD said in 2012. In defending stop and frisk, the city points to the fact that the murder rate in New York City, as of year-end 2012, was the lowest since the city started to track the statistic in 1963.
Despite this, and in response to the increased criticism the city received in regard to the stop and frisk program, Kelly outlined new policies toward increasing public confidence. Officers must report all stop-and-frisk activity at the local level and receive proper training curricula and videos under the new policies. Increased outreach to the community by the NYPD is also included in the policy.
In January, a federal judge ruled that stop and frisk was unconstitutional with regard to the NYPD’s Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP), which allowed the police to patrol private buildings and arrest trespassers under “Operation Clean Halls.” The NYPD was initially blocked from making stops at enrolled TAP apartment buildings, but a ruling reversal lifted the restriction.
Citing an inability to come up with a better solution toward protecting individual civil liberties, Judge Shira Sheindlin stated that “allowing a longstanding unconstitutional practice to persist for a few months while the parties present arguments regarding the appropriate scope of a remedy is quite distinct from allowing such a practice to persist until the competition of a trial.” The case will go to trial March 18.
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