The NYPD continued to sharply reduce stop and frisks with the activity falling by over 77 percent in the second quarter this year from the same period in 2013, according to police data obtained by Newsday.
For the three months ending June 30, the NYPD recorded 13,266 stop and frisks, down from 58,088 in the comparable period last year. The latest reductions follow a trend from the first quarter of this year where stop and frisks had dropped by more than 80 percent from the first quarter of 2013.
Once a key crime fighting strategy of former police commissioner Ray Kelly, stop and frisk has been in retreat for the past couple of years in the face of criticism it targeted minorities, something the NYPD has always denied.
The city recently settled a federal lawsuit over stops and current Commissioner William Bratton has made reform of the practice through better training a key part of his "re-engineering" of the department.
"There is no magic number on stop and frisk," said NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis when told of the latest statistics. "Stop and frisk is a very subjective action."
Bratton still believes stop and frisk is a useful tool for law enforcement but wants it done appropriately, Davis said.
While stops are down dramatically, the percentage of blacks and Hispanics involved in the encounters has remained close to the historical average of about 83 percent. In the second quarter 80.3 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic, 12.5 percent white; five percent Asian and the rest American Indian or unclassified.
The average number of stops for the city's 77 police precincts was 125. But a number of the precincts with the largest increase in shootings saw some of fewest stops, according to data the NYPD turned over to the City Council as required by law. For instance the 69th Precinct which covers the Canarsie area of Brooklyn recorded only eight stop and frisks in the quarter but so far this year has experienced a 257 percent increase in shootings, according to police statistics.
One police official and one noted criminologist, both who didn't want to be identified, thought the low stop and frisk activity in some high shooting precincts might represent officers who are "depolicing" and not doing stops out of fear of legal entanglements.
However, in early July, Bratton directed new police recruits, as well as some desk officers, to be reassigned to high shooting and high crime precincts. The effect that influx of officers will have on stop and frisk activity won't be measured until the end of the third quarter on September 30.