In response to Frederick Bedell’s letter in the June 6 edition, “Stop, frisk, save lives,” whereby he actually recommends an increase in stop and frisk of citizens, this discriminatory NYPD policy has been clearly shown to unfairly harass black and Latino youth, who are verbally abused by police, pushed up against walls, made to stand spreadeagled, and forced to empty their pockets — all for doing nothing wrong and while passersby watch, with a minimal number of actual arrests, primarily for possession of marijuana.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has released a new report on stop and frisk, which finds extreme racial disparities and ineffectiveness in the program. In 2012, the NYPD stopped people 532,911 times. Nine out of 10 of those people were neither arrested nor ticketed and 87 percent were Black or Latino. White people were only 10 percent of stops. NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman says that “With a 90-percent failure rate, the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program remains a tremendous waste of resources, sows mistrust between police and the communities of color and routinely violates fundamental rights.”
Though frisks can be legally conducted only when an officer reasonably suspects the person has a weapon that might endanger officer safety, 55.8 percent of those stopped in 2012 were frisked. Of those frisked, a weapon was found only 2 percent of the time.
City Hall claims that stop and frisk has contributed to the city’s declining murder rate. Yet a closer look reveals that the number of murders each year had already begun to decline during the latter half of the 1990s, prior to the dramatic increase in police stops. Meanwhile, many other cities have experienced large declines in their murder rates without stop and frisk, using methods in which community members help highlight trouble spots and troublemakers — not by assuming everyone in a neighborhood is part of the problem.
According to their own data, the NYPD stops more than 1,800 New Yorkers a day. A New York Times analysis recently determined that more than 20 percent of those stops involve the use of force. And these are only the numbers that the Department records. In a widely seen video, a young man describes his experience of a stop, and NYPD officers explain the damage stop-and-frisk has done to their profession and their relationship to the communities served. Check out: thenation.com/article/170413/stopped-and-frisked-being-fking-mutt-video.
The stop-and-frisk tactic is clearly discriminatory, often humiliating, a waste of police resources and totally ineffective. It must be abolished.