The NYPD stopped more than 1,400 totally innocent New Yorkers every day during the first nine months of 2012, according to a New York Civil Liberties Union analysis of new police data. During the first three quarters of the year, police stopped innocent New Yorkers 392,897 times – the overwhelming majority of whom were black or Latino. At the same time, street stops declined by 30 percent from the same period last year.
“It’s encouraging to see street stops decline for the second quarter in a row,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. “The drop in stop-and-frisks coupled with the drop in gun violence contradicts the NYPD’s narrative that stopping and frisking every person of color in sight is necessary to reduce crime in New York City.
“At the same time,” Lieberman continued, “the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program continues to have a 90 percent failure rate. It remains a tremendous waste of resources, sows mistrust between police and the communities they serve, and routinely violates fundamental rights. A walk to the subway, corner deli or school should not carry the assumption that you will be confronted by police, but that remains the disturbing reality for young men of color in New York City.”
To stop a person lawfully, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.
The latest stop-and-frisk report shows that the NYPD stopped and interrogated New Yorkers 105,988 times between July 1 and Sept. 30. About 89 percent of those encounters did not result in arrests or tickets. About 86 percent of those stopped were black or Latino. Whites were around 10 percent of people stopped.
The City Council has before it a set of legislative proposals to reform NYPD stop-and-frisk practices and related activities. The legislative package, known collectively as the Community Safety Act, would protect New Yorkers against discriminatory policing and unlawful searches, require police officers to act in a transparent manner during stop-and-frisks, and establish an Inspector General for the NYPD. The legislation has the support of a majority of council members.
“All New Yorkers deserve the right to walk down the street without being victimized by crime or the police,” said Joo-Hyun Kang, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform. “The decrease in stops this past quarter is an important step in the right direction, but not enough. The City Council needs to pass the Community Safety Act to ensure systemic change and help end discriminatory profiling, illegal searches and other abuses that New Yorkers continue to face every day because of unlawful and unnecessary interactions with the police.”