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New NYCLU Report Finds NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practices Ineffective, Reveals Depth of Racial Disparities

The New York Civil Liberties Union today released an analysis of new NYPD data that provides a detailed picture of the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, including new insights on the program’s stark racial disparities and its ineffectiveness in recovering illegal firearms.

The New York Civil Liberties Union today released an analysis of new NYPD data that provides a detailed picture of the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, including new insights on the program’s stark racial disparities and its ineffectiveness in recovering illegal firearms.

“The NYPD’s own data undermine many of the Bloomberg administration’s justifications for the stop-and-frisk program,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “Contrary to the mayor and police commissioner’s assertions, the massive spike in the number of stops has done little to remove firearms from the streets. Instead, it has violated the constitutional rights of millions of people and corroded the ability of communities of color to trust and respect the police.”

The NYCLU analyzed the NYPD’s full 2011 computerized stop-and-frisk database, which contains detailed information not included in the quarterly stop-and-frisk reports the NYPD provides the City Council. The analysis examines multiple aspects of the 2011 stop-and-frisk data, including stops, frisks, use of force, reason for stop and recovery of weapons. The analysis provides detailed information at a precinct level and a close examination of race-related aspects of stop-and-frisk.

Last year, the NYPD stopped and interrogated people 685,724 times, a more than 600 percent increase in street stops since Mayor Bloomberg’s first year in office when there were only 97,296 stops. Nine out of 10 of people stopped were innocent, meaning they were neither arrested nor ticketed. About 87 percent were black or Latino.

NYCLU’s analysis reveals that:

  • The 685,724 stops in 2011 (an increase of 14 percent from 2010) were spread unevenly amongst the city’s 76 precincts, with the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn (East New York) leading the city with 31,100 stops and the 94th Precinct in Brooklyn (Greenpoint) having the fewest stops at 2,023.
  • In 70 out of 76 precincts, blacks and Latinos accounted for more than 50 percent of stops, and in 33 precincts they accounted for more than 90 percent of stops. In the 10 precincts with black and Latino populations of 14 percent or less (such as the 6th Precinct in Greenwich Village), black and Latino New Yorkers accounted for more than 70 percent of stops in six of those precincts.
  • Young black and Latino men were the targets of a hugely disproportionate number of stops. Though they account for only 4.7 percent of the city’s population, black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of stops in 2011. The number of stops of young black men exceeded the entire city population of young black men (168,126 as compared to 158,406). Ninety percent of young black and Latino men stopped were innocent.
  • Though frisks are to be conducted only when an officer reasonably suspects the person has a weapon that might endanger officer safety, 55.7 percent of those stopped in 2011 were frisked. Of those frisked, a weapon was found only 1.9 percent of the time.
  • Frisks varied enormously by precinct, with officers in the 46th Precinct in the Bronx frisking people 80.4 percent of the time, as compared to a low of 27.5 percent in the 17th Precinct on the East Side of Manhattan.
  • Black and Latino New Yorkers were more likely to be frisked than whites and were less likely to be found with a weapon.
  • While the NYPD recovered one gun for every 266 stops in 2003, the additional 524,873 stops in 2011 yielded only one gun for every 3,000 people stopped.
  • Of the 605,328 stops of innocent people in 2011, 53.6 percent were frisked. The 75th Precinct led the city in stops of innocent people with 27,672 such stops, while the 94th Precinct had the fewest with 1,843.

“Our analysis demonstrates the alarming extent to which the NYPD is targeting innocent black and brown New Yorkers,” NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn said. “In nearly every police precinct – black and white, high crime and low crime – black and Latino New Yorkers are stopped and frisked at a far greater rate than whites. Everyone wants to feel safe in their neighborhoods, but the abuse of stop-and-frisk is making communities of color across New York City fear the force that is supposed to protect them.”

In response to discriminatory policing practices like the abuse of stop-and-frisk, the NYCLU and our allies in Communities United for Police Reform are working to pass the Community Safety Act, a series of City Council bills that would strengthen the definition of discrimination, ensure that New Yorkers understand their right to not consent to searches where no probable cause or warrant exists, and require that NYPD officers identify themselves when conducting stop-and-frisks or engaging in other police activities. In the coming weeks a bill will be introduced creating an NYPD Inspector General’s office.

The NYCLU is also helping to organize a Father’s Day march with 1199 SEIU, the NAACP, the National Action Network and dozens of other labor, civil rights and community organizations to demand an end to the NYPD’s abuse of stop-and-frisk.

“The findings of the NYCLU are incredibly disturbing yet not surprising at all,” said George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy has led to rampant racial profiling with tragic consequences over the years. For the safety of all our children, we must speak out against this continued injustice. This is an issue for all people of color and all people of conscience.”

The NYCLU sued the NYPD in 2007 for access to the Police Department’s electronic stop-and-frisk database. In 2008, a State Supreme Court judge ordered the NYPD to turn over the database. Prior to that, the NYPD kept secret detailed information of its stop-and-frisk program.

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