Stop-and-frisk studies support racial motivation in low-income areas
JA'PHETH TOULSON Special to the AmNews | 4/11/2013, 4:21 p.m.
A Reuters analysis of more than 3 million stops from 2006 through 2011 shows that by far the densest concentrations fell in areas of public housing, home to many of the city's poorest families and where 90 percent of residents are black or Hispanic. The stop rate is highly disproportionate in these areas: In 2011, police stopped people in these areas at a rate more than three times higher than elsewhere in the city, the analysis found.
The study also shows that more than half the searches happened not on the streets and paths around these buildings but inside them - in stairwells, lobbies and corridors.
The analysis used mapping software to plot six years' worth of data and identify areas where stops were clustered the most. The software also helped identify stops that occurred in public housing areas, so the nature of those stops could be analyzed and compared with stops that happened elsewhere in the city.
In some of the city's safest neighborhoods, police make dozens of stops each year. In the most stubborn pockets of crime and, or poverty, police make thousands. Many residents there feel as if they are under siege - both from the high levels of crime that prompt aggressive policing and from the police activity itself.
The controversy over stop-and-frisk is playing out in neighborhoods like Brownsville and a number of other high-crime public housing communities across the city's five boroughs, where dense clusters of red-brick public housing towers rise up across hundreds of acres. 1,154 stops happened in that area according to a map put together by Columbia School of Journalism's New York World, using consensus data.
The policing contrasts are stark. In the 28-block heart of Brownsville, the stop rate was 572 per 1,000 residents last year, that's over 50 percent of residents stopped. For young black men, the rate is far higher and can easily translate into several stops per year. Four miles away in upper-middle-class Park Slope, Brooklyn, police stopped people at a rate of 35 per 1,000 residents
Last year, Port Authority Bus Terminal ranked No.1 with 1,778 stops. Jamaica Center followed with 1,546 stops, Frederick Douglas Boulevard (1,303) and Herald Square (1,187).
Among all of New York City's top six stop-and-frisk hotspots, which saw 8,099 stops in 2011, police seized only three guns. Two were from the same person at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and one was in Jamaica, Queens.
In the 79th Precinct, which includes both Marcy and Sumner houses, police found 12 guns among the 14,493 stops in the precinct. Eleven of those were in the possession of Black men between the ages of 17 and 38, and every one of these seizures occurred in or within a block of public housing, bringing into question the effectiveness of the policy and program.
To view stop-and-frisk hot spots, click here