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The Rise of Stop-and-Frisk is a Dangerous Gift to the Trump Agenda

As the number of pedestrians and vehicles stopped by the NYPD jumps, so have complaints of police abuse.

Former President Trump on the campaign trail standing in front of a large american flag.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr
By: Lupe Victoria Aguirre Senior Staff Attorney, Legal & Simon McCormack Senior Writer, Communications

As we head into the last months of the 2024 campaign for president, Donald Trump is reprising a familiar theme. As he did in his previous runs for office, Trump is promising to force police departments nationwide to ramp up their use of stop-and-frisk. The aggressive use of stop-and-frisk was pioneered by Trump ally and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and then accelerated under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

But – after immense pressure from grassroots organizations and multiple lawsuits –  the practice was successfully curtailed. The drop began during the last years of the Bloomberg administration and then continuing through Bill de Blasio’s eight years as mayor. Crime rates fell as reported stop-and-frisks precipitously declined.

But Mayor Eric Adams has abruptly reversed that downward trend.



Adams hasn’t needed Trump to force him to put his foot on the stop-and-frisk gas pedal. Under Adams, the NYPD has already dramatically escalated its use of stop-and-frisk. The NYPD reported 6,110 stops in the first quarter of 2024. That’s the highest number since the second quarter of 2015 when 6,469 stops were reported nearly a decade ago and it’s almost 50 percent higher than the number of stops in the last quarter of 2023.

As these numbers have increased, so has the overall percentage of stops that don’t result in a summons or an arrest. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of those stopped were not arrested or issued a summons in the first quarter of 2024.

As has always been the case with stop-and-frisk, the police disproportionately target Black and Brown New Yorkers. Only six percent of those stopped were white, while 59 percent were Black, and 32 percent were Latinx. According to the 2020 Census, 31 percent of New York City's population is white, 20 percent is Black, and 28 percent is Latinx.



The latest data is not an anomaly. Nearly every quarter brings a marked uptick in stops under Adams.

The mayor has touted increased stop activity as a way to drive down crime, but that argument was thoroughly disproven years ago. As recorded stops fell 93 percent between 2011 and 2014, murders and shootings plummeted, and other serious crimes dropped significantly as well.

The heavy reliance on stop-and-frisk has never been an effective public safety tool. Though it’s been pitched as a way to prevent violent offenses, few guns are ever recovered and the vast majority of people who are stopped are completely innocent. Beyond stop-and-frisk’s ineffectiveness, the stress and humiliation of these types of police interactions can cause people serious psychological harm, which can extend more broadly to their families, neighborhoods, and communities.

As pedestrian stops have risen, NYPD vehicle stops have also climbed. The number of traffic stops reported by the NYPD increased by 40 percent, rising from 160,957 stops in the final quarter of 2023 to 225,672 stops in the first three months of 2024. Officers disproportionately stopped and arrested Black people during these encounters, while the number of Latinx drivers targeted in vehicle stops has increased over the last two years.



The more stops officers conduct, the more chances there are for police to abuse or even kill New Yorkers. Unsurprisingly, under this Trumpian lurch backwards towards the bad old days of stop-and-frisk, the number of complaints of NYPD abuse have also skyrocketed. Reports of NYPD abuse have reached their highest level in more than a decade. According to data from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the independent NYPD watchdog, New Yorkers made 2,355 complaints against NYPD officers between January 1 and June 1 of this year. That’s the most in that timeframe since 2012.

Stops of innocent people are up, reports of abuse are too and now the CCRB – which has already had to cut back on the types of police misconduct reports it investigates – is in line for another debilitating cut under the mayor’s proposed budget.

The CCRB is far from the only agency with its funds on the chopping block. The mayor’s budget fails to fully fund early childhood education, libraries, mental, maternal, and physical health care, and much more. These are the types of investments that are critical if we are going to fix the root causes of crime and promote true public safety. Meanwhile, the mayor wants to spend $225 million on a new NYPD training facility while the department’s overtime budget for things like fare evasion and other minor offenses continues to shoot into the stratosphere.

Mayor Adams seems hellbent on using the NYPD to solve all of the city’s problems, regardless of how ineffective this strategy is, and despite the growing number of New Yorkers who report being abused by police officers. This is the kind of reactionary, shortsighted thinking we’ve come to expect from Trump. But in a progressive place like New York, there should be more daylight between the former president and Mayor Adams, who was once a critic of stop-and-frisk.

It's bad enough Trump is trying to spread the failed, racist, and counterproductive police practice of stop-and-frisk across the country. But it is even more troubling that New York City’s leadership seems to be ignoring the hard lessons we should have learned over the last decade.

Stats for this piece were compiled by Melissa Avilez Lopez, NYCLU Data and Research Strategist.

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