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Letter: Data on NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk is Troubling (Staten Island Advance)

To the Editor:

Daniel Leddy overlooks convincing evidence that New York City Police Department officers unlawfully stop and frisk hundreds of thousands of innocent people annually (“NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy is prudent, lawful, Advance, May 8”).

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Terry v. Ohio and subsequent case law established clear legal justifications for stops-and-frisks. To stop a person, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion the individual has committed, is committing, or is about to commit an unlawful act. To frisk a person, an officer must have reason to believe the individual has a weapon that threatens the officer’s safety.

Now consider these facts: Last year, 605,328 of the 685,724 stops, more than 88 percent, were of innocent people as the encounter did not result in a summons or an arrest. Less than 2 percent of the 381,704 frisks conducted produced weapons.

These statistics clearly show that police officers routinely stop-and-frisk people without legal justification. How else to explain the massive numbers of innocent people stopped and unarmed people frisked?

Used lawfully, stop-and-frisk is an acceptable law-enforcement tool, but the NYPD’s rampant abuse of the tactic represents a wholesale violation of civil rights that sows mistrust between police officers and the public they serve.

Donna Lieberman
Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union

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