Pol: Mayor needs to force NYPD to 'stop and frisk' fewer people
Photo credit: Bill de Blasio outside City Hall Wednesday
Public Advocate and likely 2013 mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio on Wednesday called the NYPD's controversial "Stop and Frisk" program "counterproductive," and demanded Mayor Michael Bloomberg force the agency to cut back on "unwarranted stops."
Earlier in the day, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report that showed that police stops increased 14% last year to more than 685,000. That’s up from just under 100,000 stops by police made in 2002.
De Blasio said Bloomberg should make commanding officers lower that number and report them using the NYPD’s CompStat crime reporting program.
“We need this tool in our arsenal, but we need to use it in the right proportion,” de Blasio said outside City Hall with other elected officials. “Every unwarranted stop widens the gap between police and the communities they protect, making us all less safe.”
Cops stopped and questioned black and Latino men between 14 and 24 years old more than 40% of the time, according to the NYCLU’s analysis, which also found that the number of times young black men were stopped exceeded their entire population in the city.
“The NYPD is out of control with ‘Stop and Frisk,’” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “They’re not responding to suspicious behavior — they’re responding to the color of your skin.”
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne dismissed the report’s conclusions, saying the policy has saved lives and swept illegal weapons from the streets. So far this year, he said, the city has seen only 127 murders — a record low, and 19% fewer than this time last year.
“Police are targeting crime, not individuals,” Browne said in an email. “They could point out in any given precinct that the precinct population is over 50% women, but we stop men 90% of the time. That’s because 90% of the perp population is men.”
Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson echoed Browne’s comments and rejected de Blasio’s suggestions.
“Mr. De Blasio may be nostalgic for the days when the ACLU set crime policy in this city, but most New Yorkers don’t want rampant crime to return,” he said in an emailed statement. “Make no mistake, we will not continue to be the safest big city in America if Mr. De Blasio has his way.”
Eugene O’Donnell, a former cop and a police studies expert at John Jay College said it’s “probably past time” for the police to have an outside review of the practice.
“There needs to be an intelligent approach that looks critically at the value of this and seeks to minimize it and make it most effective when it’s used,” he said of the police stops. “It needs to be treated as a more serious intrusion than it has been. It's sort of been dismissed as a little bit of an inconvenience.”
“The challenge is really to do a lesser number of intelligent stops that are perfectly legal,” O’Donnell added. “The problem with this high volume is that it may not be that intelligent and it may be skirting the law.”