New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly continues to defend the controversial stop-and-frisk program, stating it is a key reason that crime is down in the city. There have been 7,893 fewer deaths since Kelly became commissioner 11 years ago, he said Tuesday.
“It’s a practice that’s essential,” Kelly said on Tuesday’s Morning Joe on MSNBC. “You can’t police without doing it.”
As Kelly and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg stand by stop and frisk, critics of the policy remain unconvinced of its constitutionality and say it disproportionately targets African-American and Latino males.
In 2012, the NYPD stopped people 532,911 times. Nine out of 10 of those people were neither arrested nor ticketed and 87 percent were Black or Latino, according to a report by the New York Civil Liberties Union. White people were only 10 percent of stops.
The department is also accused of forcing police to fill stop-and-frisk quotas. But Kelly denies this saying, “There are no quotas. There are productivity goals.”
A federal court is still deciding the fate of stop and frisk and whether it is legal. In the meantime, New York community advocates are putting pressure on Mayor Bloomberg to end the police practice, in light of President Obama’s comments against racial profiling in his speech last Friday.
Communities United for Police Reform have launched a petition with rapper Talib Kweli calling for the mayor to end the policy. The group is also supporting the council’s newest laws that create an independent watchdog over the NYPD and one that protects New York City residents from police profiling based on “race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability and housing status.”
In June, the Justice Department also weighed in and stated support for the changes.
Kelly has also come under scrutiny after President Obama stated he would be “well qualified” to run the Department of Homeland Security. But the president has not officially named Kelly as a choice to replace Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is leaving.
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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)