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Stop-and-frisk made a comeback across New York in 2019: report

New York City police officers demonstrate the stop-and-frisk tactic at a training facility at Rodman's Neck in the Bronx back in 2012. (File photo/amNewYork Metro)

Despite legal challenges and a promise to end a controversial practice targeting people of color, the NYPD stopped-and-frisked more New Yorkers last year than it did in 2018, according to the Legal Aid Society.

The nonprofit legal defense agency reported on Monday a 22% spike in the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk in 2019. Most of the stop-and-frisks occurred in Brooklyn, with 4,311 of the 13,459 citywide cases reported there.

While it had the fewest stop-and-frisks in the entire city with 514 in 2019, Staten Island had the largest increase in the procedure’s use; 340 stop-and-frisks were recorded in 2018, accounting for a 51.2% spike in 2019.

The NYPD, however, disputed the Legal Aid Society report. A spokesperson claimed the spike is “unlikely to be a true increase in stops, but rather [a result of] more accurate and complete reporting” of them.

Over the last decade, stop-and-frisk came under legal challenges over allegations that officers improperly used the tactic, disproportionally stopping more people of color. A federal class action lawsuit led to a 2014 court ruling that found stop-and-frisk to be unconstitutional, forcing the NYPD to change its approach to policing.

The NYPD has worked to dramatically lower stop-and-frisk procedures across the city — going from 191,851 stops in 2013 to 11,008 stops in 2018. That’s a 94.2% decrease over five years.

Even so, the Legal Aid Society said that stop-and-frisk usage increased in 2019 to 13,459 stops. Ninety percent of these cases involved people of color, the society claimed, and 65 percent of all stops resulted in neither arrest nor the issuance of a summons to the stopped individual.

“This data confirms what we hear from our clients on a daily basis — despite court rulings that the city’s practices were unlawful, aggressive stop-and-frisk has made a comeback in New York City,” said the Legal Aid Society’s Corey Stoughton, who serves as attorney-in-charge of its special litigation unit with the criminal defense practice.

“What it really represents is a broken promise to New Yorkers who stood up years ago to end ineffective, unfair and unconstitutional police practices,” Stoughton added.

Detective Annette Shelton, an NYPD spokesperson, told amNewYork Metro in a statement that the department “has enhanced its auditing and compliance metrics as well as developed training to address stops and proper reporting.”

“The result is a better understanding of a very complex area of law, correction of common misunderstandings and better reporting,” she added. “The NYPD has dramatically reduced the use of stop-question-and-frisk from a high of 685,000 in 2011.”

amNewYork Metro reached out to the Mayor’s office for comment and is awaiting a response.

Robert Pozarycki