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Poll: New Yorkers oppose stop-and-frisk

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 4/11/2013, 4:21 p.m.
A new study released by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute reveals that New Yorkers don't...
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A new study released by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute reveals that New Yorkers don't believe cutting stop-and-frisk will increase crime and overwhelmingly reject procedure.

According to the poll that questioned registered voters, almost three to one participants are opposed to stop-and-frisk being used by the NYPD. Black voters tipped the overall voter opinion to a narrow 50 to 45 percent disapproval of the police practice, according to the results released last week.

Black voters disapproved of stop-and-frisk 69 to 25 percent while approval is 57 to 37 percent among white voters and 53 to 45 percent among Hispanic voters. Men are divided on the practice, with 47 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed. Women oppose the practice 51 to 43 percent.

Voters also said that a decrease in police use of stop-and-frisk would not lead to an increase in gun violence (50 to 41 percent), again with significant racial division. Black voters (63 to 28 percent) said the reductions would not lead to more crime. White voters (49 to 39 percent) said it would and Hispanic voters agree (52 to 46 percent).

"Public opinion is just about down-the-middle on the police tactic of stop-and-frisk. If the decline in such stops persists, will gun violence grow? On this question, too, New Yorkers are divided," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But we're still a liberal city. If there's a choice between taking all steps to end crime and protecting civil liberties, New Yorkers come down 78 to 16 percent on the civil liberties side."

When it comes to the work that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly is doing, New York City voters approve 64 to 26 percent, including 51 to 39 percent among Black voters. Voters approve (57 to 33 percent) of the job police are doing. Black voters disapprove 47 to 37 percent.

"The NYPD's scare campaign to defend its out-of-control stop-and-frisk harassment is flailing," said Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) spokesperson Joo-Hyun Kang. "Unjustified stops targeting communities of color don't decrease gun violence or make communities safer. New Yorkers don't want their civil liberties violated en masse, and they are not buying the NYPD's baseless theory that the only way to stop gun violence is to throw out the Constitution."

Reports indicate that numbers by the NYPD tout a drop in stop-and-frisk incidents in 2011 based on fewer complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. While the total number of stop-and-frisks increased about 14 percent, the number of complaints about stops decreased by 10 percent.

"If past is prologue, we can expect that NYPD officers subjected at least 1,000 innocent New Yorkers a day to humiliating and unjustified street stops. That is nothing to brag about," said New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman. "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."

The NYCLU recently released a smartphone app called "Stop-and-Frisk Watch." The free app, currently available for Android phones and coming soon for iPhones, is in English and Spanish and allows bystanders to fully document stop-and-frisk encounters and alert community members when a street stop is in progress.

The app can film an incident with audio by simply pushing a trigger on the phone's frame. It also alerts the user when people in their vicinity are being stopped by the police and allows users to report a police interaction they saw or experienced even if they didn't film it by doing a survey.

The app includes a "Know Your Rights" section that instructs people about their rights when confronted by police and their right to film police activity in public. "Stop and Frisk Watch" is intended for use by people witnessing a police encounter, not by individuals who are the subject of a police stop.