Stop-and-Frisk Down, Safety Up: NYCLU Data Analysis

December 10, 2015 —  Stop-and-frisks have fallen dramatically while crime in New York City remains at record lows, according to data analysis released today by the New York Civil Liberties Union. As stops fell 93 percent between 2011 and 2014, murders and shootings have plummeted and other serious crimes have dropped significantly as well.

“The NYPD does not have to choose between respecting our individual rights and keeping us safe,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “As Mayor de Blasio said, ‘we’re not going back’ to the massive stop-and-frisk program of the Bloomberg and Kelly era, which alienated communities of color and sowed mistrust between New Yorkers and police. This data supports what the NYCLU has long advocated: We all want safe communities, but hyper aggressive stop-and-frisk or broken windows policing are not the answer.”

The NYCLU analyzed data from the NYPD, including quarterly stop-and-frisk reports and weekly CompStat reports, since stop-and-frisk began declining from its peak of nearly 700,000 in 2011. In 2014, murders fell 35 percent from 2011 to a record low of 333. Serious crimes remained flat and shootings fell 36 percent -- particularly notable because defenders of stop-and-frisk claimed the program was necessary to reduce gun violence. Current figures indicate that in 2015, murders will tick up slightly, still 33 percent below 2011, shootings will stay flat, 23 percent below 2011, and serious crimes will fall 5 percent below 2011. Despite the reported week-to-week fluctuations in crime rates, the trend toward greater public safety remains steady. This all comes as the number of stops this year will fall an expected 96 percent from their 2011 peak.

The analysis runs directly counter to claims by defenders of the Bloomberg and Kelly stop-and-frisk program that the massive, discriminatory program was necessary to keep crime down, even though the program resulted in few arrests, recovered fewer weapons and mostly targeted innocent people. As with national crime statistics, data also run counter to speculation that the heightened public scrutiny of police officers since high profile police misconduct incidents over the past year-and-a-half has hampered their ability to do their job -- speculation denounced by President Obama who noted that the country is “still enjoying historically low rates" of violent crime.

“The end of the discriminatory stop-and-frisk regime of the last administration was a victory of facts and data about policing over fear-mongering and propaganda,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn. “That New Yorkers are safer than ever after the fall in stop-and-frisk shows we can eliminate abusive police practices and actually improve public safety.”