Last week, the NYPD revealed to the New York City Council that stop and frisks by the department reached an all-time high in 2011. According to numbers from the NYPD, 684,330 encounters took place last year, with Blacks and Latinos remaining prime targets.
That number is a staggering 14 percent higher than in 2010 and represents a 600 percent increase since 2002, when the NYPD started keeping records of stop-and-frisk incidents. Close to 90 percent of those stopped and frisked in 2011 were Black or Latino, with only 12 percent of the stops actually ending in arrest.
“Rather than reflexively defending the practice by citing declining crime statistics, the Bloomberg administration and NYPD should be thought-fully reviewing how the use of this practice is deteriorating the relationship between citizens and law enforcement, marginalizing entire communities and violating the civil rights of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Brooklyn City Councilman Al Vann, as he called stop-and-frisk “out of control” in response to the numbers.
He said that even though the NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg defend the practice, there is no justification.
Fellow Brooklyn Councilman Jumanne Williams said that stop-and-frisk might be an acceptable policing tool, but the NYPD has turned it into a unacceptable policy.
“It interferes with the good work displayed by many of the department’s officers and puts innocent New Yorkers at risk. Almost nine out of every 10 who are stopped are guilty of no crime whatsoever,” said Williams. “No other city agency would be permitted to continue a policy with such a high rate of failure, especially when one factors in the indignity suffered by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every year.”
New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said that last year alone, the NYPD stopped enough innocent New-Yorkers to fill Madison Square Garden more than 30 times over.
“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,” she said.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights group, said that NYPD data also shows that officers were more likely to use physical force on Black and Latinos during encounters. The group is also dismissing the claim that stop-and-frisk reduces crimes in communities.
“Police stop-and-frisks without reasonable suspicion violate the Fourth Amendment, and racial profiling is a violation of fundamental rights and protections of the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said the CCR in a statement.
“Further, this kind of heavy-handed policing promotes mistrust and fear of police officers in communities of color.
Rather than serving those communities, police end up occupying them.”
“These numbers make clear that illegal stop-and-frisks have become an epidemic in New York City,” said Darius Charney, a senior staff attorney at the CCR, which is currently litigating Floyd v. City of New York, a federal classaction lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices. “And the only antidote is meaningful, independent oversight of the department.”