February 23, 2011 — The NYPD stopped and interrogated more than 517,000 completely innocent New Yorkers in 2010, the most ever since the Police Department began collecting data on its troubling stop-and-frisk program. The new figures, released by the NYPD this week, represent a 2.5 percent increase over 2009, when police officers stopped 504,594 innocent people.
More than 86 percent of those stopped and questioned by police last year were neither arrested nor issued a summons. About 85 percent were black or Latino.
“A trip to the corner store should not have to include the assumption that you’ll have to explain yourself to the police, but that is the troubling reality in many New York City neighborhoods,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “We are deeply concerned about this practice and about racial profiling by the police, and we believe the Department must take aggressive measures to address this problem.”
The NYPD recorded a total of 601,055 stop-and-frisk encounters in 2010. About 53 percent, or 317,642, of those stopped were black and another 32 percent, or 190,491, were Latino. Only about 9 percent of people stopped were white. Over the past seven years, NYPD officers have made 3,399,516 street stops.
Last year, Governor Paterson signed legislation that protects New Yorkers’ privacy rights by ending the NYPD’s practice of keeping a computer database of completely innocent people who have been stopped, questioned or frisked by police officers. The NYCLU had been raising alarms about the issue since 2007.
The new law allows police to keep electronic databases of generic information about stop-and-frisk encounters, such as the gender and race of individuals stopped, and the location of the stops. This data is necessary to independently analyze the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk activity and identify whether officers are engaging in a pattern of racial profiling.
The database legislation complements a lawsuit filed by the NYCLU in May 2010 challenging the NYPD’s refusal to clear its stop-and-frisk database of individuals who were stopped by police, arrested or issued a summons, and subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing. The lawsuit, which is ongoing, maintains that this practice violates the state’s sealing statute.