NYCLU Analysis Reveals NYPD Street Stops Soar 600% Over Course of Bloomberg Administration

February 14, 2012 —  The NYPD stopped and interrogated people 684,330 times in 2011, by far the highest total since the Police Department began collecting data on its troubling stop-and-frisk program in 2002. This represents a 603 percent increase in stop-and-frisks since that year, the first year of the Bloomberg administration, when there were only 97,296 stops.

Of those subjected to NYPD street stops in 2011, nearly nine out of 10 were completely innocent, meaning they were neither arrested nor issued a summons. About 87 percent were black or Latino.

“Last year alone, the NYPD stopped enough totally innocent New Yorkers to fill Madison Square Garden more than 30 times over,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “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.”

Under the Bloomberg administration, the NYPD has conducted more than 4.3 million street stops. About 88 percent of those stops – nearly 3.8 million – resulted in no arrest or summons.

“These numbers make clear that illegal stops-and-frisks have become an epidemic in New York City,” said Darius Charney, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is currently litigating Floyd v. City of New York, a federal class action lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices. “And the only antidote is meaningful, independent oversight of the Department.”

“I have been stopped, questioned and frisked four times,” said Joseph Midgley, a Picture the Homeless civil rights leader. “Each time I was standing in a public place, committing no crime. Each time, I was asked for an ID, my pockets were searched and I was asked if I had anything illegal on me, which I did not. Each time, the police found nothing illegal, and I was not charged, nor given a ticket. It made me feel profiled, pre-judged and judged. Now that I am homeless, the police harassment has only gotten worse. This form of discriminatory policing is an outrage and should be stopped now.”

According to the NYCLU’s analysis of NYPD stop-and-frisk data, each year for the past eight years, four out of the five precincts with the most stops are predominantly black or Latino. The precincts with the fewest stops are predominantly white or Asian.

The new 2011 figures represent a 14 percent increase over 2010, when police officers stopped New Yorkers 601,285 times.

“These new numbers about the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy confirm that the program has not met its objectives and sparks distrust of law enforcement in communities of color,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “If the goal is to get guns off the street, the program’s failure to find guns in 99.9 percent of all cases speaks for itself. If the goal is to make arrests, the lack of an arrest in 94 percent of all cases is equally troubling. Last year nearly 700,000 stops were conducted, the most ever, and 85 percent of those were of black or Latino New Yorkers. It’s time for us to work with communities to get guns off the street, not against them. The NYPD can’t hope to build bridges if it keeps burning them.”

“Stop, question and frisk may be an acceptable policing tool, but in the hands of the NYPD, it has become an unacceptable policing policy,” said New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams. “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 ten who are stopped are guilty of no crime whatsoever. 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.”

“The National Action Network has expressed concern over the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices because the tactic inevitably leads to racial profiling and illegal stops, and unfairly targets innocent blacks and other minorities without proper cause,” said Michael Hardy, executive vice president and general counsel of National Action Network. “Racially biased policing infringes upon our constitutional rights and NAN will continue to voice concern over the rising number of stop-and-frisks in New York City.”