Stop and Frisk Is Declining as Police Tactic in NYC

The number of people stopped by police in New York City dropped by 30 percent in the first nine months of 2012 .

Posted: 11/28/2012 11:47 AM EST

The use of stop and frisk, the controversial New York City Police Department initiative under which hundreds of thousands of people have been detained, is apparently declining.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, street stops of people under the stop-and-frisk program declined by 30 percent in the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period last year.

“It’s encouraging to see street stops decline for the second quarter in a row,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. “The drop in stop-and-frisks coupled with the drop in gun violence contradicts the NYPD’s narrative that stopping and frisking every person of color in sight is necessary to reduce crime in New York City.

“At the same time,” Lieberman continued, “the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program continues to have a 90 percent failure rate. It remains a tremendous waste of resources, sows mistrust between police and the communities they serve, and routinely violates fundamental rights. A walk to the subway, corner deli or school should not carry the assumption that you will be confronted by police, but that remains the disturbing reality for young men of color in New York City.”

The tactic has been harshly criticized by a number of civic groups, civil rights organizations and elected officials in New York who have complained that the practice disproportionately targets Black and Latino young men. Being stopped, they complain, is unnecessary and that police statistics have revealed the stops rarely lead to arrests.

In fact, Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president and chief executive of the NAACP, said the stop-and-frisk program amounted to “wholesale racial profiling” and that it should be discontinued.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has defended the practice as a critical tool in fighting crime in America’s largest city.

The police tactic suffered a blow earlier this year when the district attorney’s office in the Bronx decided to stop prosecuting residents stopped by police at public housing complexes unless the arresting officer was able to ensure that the arrest was legitimate. 

That change in policy calls for the arresting officer in such cases to be interviewed by the prosecutor in the Bronx.


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 (Photo: Daniel Barry/Getty Images)

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