In addition to the startling figures concerning Black and Latino stops, the analysis also finds that overall, the controversial street stops have increased nearly 600 percent since New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002.
“Last year alone, the NYPD stopped enough totally innocent New Yorkers to fill Madison Square Garden more than 30 times over,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “It is not a crime to walk down the street in New York City, yet every day innocent Black and brown New Yorkers are turned into suspects for doing just that. It is a stunning abuse of power that undermines trust between police and the community.”
The controversial “stop and frisk policy” has long raised concerns of racial profiling and privacy rights by advocates who blame the practice for the large number of Blacks and Latinos arrested in the city each year. The policy allows officers to question and frisk (or pat down) anyone they deem suspicious, without a warrant.
Despite the negative impact the policy has had on Black and Latino arrest rates, the department maintains that the stops are necessary to fight crime.
“Stops save lives,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told the New York Daily News. “Over the past 10 years, there were 5,430 murders in New York City, compared with 11,058 in the decade before Mayor Bloomberg took office. That’s a remarkable achievement — 5,628 lives saved — attributable to proactive policing strategies that included stops.”
Out of all those subjected to the NYPD street stops in 2011, nearly nine out of 10 were completely innocent, meaning they were neither arrested nor issued a summons. The NYCLU analysis also shows that for the past eight years, four out of the five precincts reporting that most stops are predominantly Black or Latino.
“These numbers make clear that illegal stops-and-frisks have become an epidemic in New York City,” Darius Charney, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told NYCLU. “And the only antidote is meaningful, independent oversight of the Department.”
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