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Op-Ed: What Donald Trump Got Wrong About Stop-And-Frisk (Huffington Post)

Statue of Liberty

by Donna Lieberman

Short answer: Everything.

As executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, I’ve learned a lot about stop-and-frisk over the years. At a “town hall” meeting on Wednesday with Sean Hannity of Fox News, Trump, in a quote now heard around the world, said about black violence: “I would do stop-and-frisk, I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well…” No, Mr. Trump. Stop-and-frisk in New York did not work incredibly well by any single metric.

Let us count the ways.

1) It did not decrease violence. Rudy Giuliani and other defenders of the NYPD’s massive stop-and-frisk program misleadingly claimed for years that the policing tactic was necessary for public safety. The data begged to differ: At the height of stop-and-frisk in 2011, when the NYPD stopped a mindboggling 685,724 people: – Nearly nine in ten New Yorkers who were stopped were innocent, meaning they were neither ticketed nor arrested. – The supposed point of stop-and-frisk was to retrieve guns, but almost no guns were recovered. In 99.9 percent of those stops NO guns were retrieved. – Today, stops are down over 90 percent since 2011— and New York City is safer than it has been in years.

2) It crushed a city. Anyone paying attention to the news sees headlines every week showing the broken relationship between police and people of color. Stop-and-frisk holds no small amount of responsibility for the frustration that has led to rallies, protests and movements over the last year. It’s no mystery why. – Nearly 4.3 million Black or Latino people were stopped under the NYPD’s massive, racially discriminatory program. – Young people were hit the worst. Though they accounted for only 4.7 percent of the city’s population in 2011, Black and Latino males between the ages of 14-24 accounted for 41 percent of the stops. – Some Black and Latino men were stopped over 100 times. -The number of stops of young Black men exceeded the entire city population of young Black men.

3) It was a huge waste of time and money Between 2002 and 2013, 5 million New Yorkers were stopped. That’s more than the combined populations of Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The NYPD stop-and-frisk regime was a massive drain on police resources. And if you look at what that taxpayer time and money achieved, it’s pretty embarrassing for the NYPD. In 2003, when the NYPD made 160,851 stops, they confiscated 604 guns. When they made more than four times as many stops – nearly 700,000 in 2011 – they confiscated only 176 more guns.

4) It won an election — for someone who opposed it. New York City was in terrible shape at the end of the last administration of Mayor Bloomberg thanks to the stop-and-frisk regime. In 2013, Bill de Blasio ran for mayor promising to end the massive, abusive and racially discriminatory tactic and improve relations between the NYPD and many New Yorkers, especially New Yorkers of color. And he won – defeating his Republican opponent with 73 percent of the vote.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union