The NYPD’s already troubling stop-and-frisk policy got even worse for New Yorkers in 2008. In that year, 465,413 completely innocent New Yorkers were interrogated by the police, a 14 percent increase from 2007 and the highest level on record.

A new five-year analysis from the New York Civil Liberties Union reveals that nearly 2 million innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations, and that the black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. During the past five years, nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.

“In just the past year, the NYPD has stopped enough totally innocent New Yorkers to fill the new Yankee Stadium nine times over,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the NYCLU. “This disrespectful, counterproductive and racially-targeted tactic must end. Innocent New Yorkers should not have to be afraid when they see a police officer walking toward them.”

An analysis of the NYPD’s data reveals an alarming trend: More and more totally innocent New Yorkers are being regularly subjected to unnecessary police interactions, and the vast majority are black and Latino.

  • In 2004, 315,483 New Yorkers were stopped by the police.
    279,754 were totally innocent (89 percent)
    156,056 were black (50 percent)
    90,468 were Latino (29 percent)
    29,000 were white (9 percent)
  • In 2005, 399,043 New Yorkers were stopped by the police.
    351, 842 were totally innocent (88 percent)
    196,977 were black (49 percent)
    115, 395 were Latino (29 percent)
    40,837 were white (10 percent)
  • In 2006, 508,540 New Yorkers were stopped by the police.
    458,104 were totally innocent (90 percent)
    268,610 were black (53 percent)
    148,364 were Latino (29 percent)
    53,793 were white (11 percent)
  • In 2007, 468,732 New Yorkers were stopped by the police.
    407,923 were totally innocent (87 percent)
    242,373 were black (52 percent)
    142,903 were Latino (31 percent)
    52,715 were white (11 percent)
  • In 2008, 531,159 New Yorkers were stopped by the police.
    465,413 were totally innocent (88 percent)
    271,602 were black (51 percent)
    167,111 were Latino (32 percent)
    57,407 were white (11 percent)

    Over the past five years, the NYPD has made 2,223,157 street stops. Though blacks represent only 25 percent of New York City’s population, they represent 51 percent of all stop-and-frisks. Though whites represent 44 percent of the population, they represent only 10 percent of those who are stopped-and-frisked.

    “The numbers speak for themselves,” said Christopher Dunn, NYCLU associate legal director. “Completely innocent New Yorkers are being stopped by the police without justification, and people of color continue to bear the brunt of this harmful practice.”

    The NYCLU is also deeply concerned that the NYPD retains the name and home address of everyone it stops, which means the department is building a massive database of law-abiding black and Latino New Yorkers.

    “Innocent New Yorkers who are the victims of unjustified police stops should not suffer the further harm of having their personal information kept in an NYPD database, which simply makes them a target for future investigations,” Dunn said.

    In the summer of 2007, the NYCLU served the NYPD with a formal legal request to turn over the complete stop-and-frisk database under the state’s Freedom of Information Law. The department resisted transparency and so, in November 2007, the NYCLU filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court challenging the NYPD. In May of 2008, the NYCLU won that case and received the database in October, 2008. The NYCLU is currently analyzing that database and will publish its findings this year.

    The NYCLU requested the information to allow for an independent analysis of the Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, which have been the subject of enormous controversy since the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo.

    “Every year hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers are stopped, searched and interrogated by the police for doing nothing more than walking down the street,” Lieberman said. “We are deeply concerned about this practice and about racial profiling by the police, and we believe the department must take aggressive measures to address this problem.”