During New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s first year in office, the New York Police Department stopped and interrogated 97,296 people on the streets. By 2007, with the Bloomberg administration pushing the a stop-and-frisk strategy, police made more than a half a million stops. Last year, the figure rose to a record 685,724 people. And according to a New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) report, the vast majorities of stops — about 87 percent — were of blacks and Latinos. Despite robust defenses of the tactics, they appear to be less effective than the Bloomberg administration and NYPD claim.
Most troubling, the NYCLU report seemed to bear out charges of racial profiling in stop-and-frisk situations. In precincts where blacks and Latinos are least represented among the population (14 percent or less), blacks and Latinos were nonetheless the target of 70 percent of stops. Perhaps most staggeringly, the the Wall Street Journal highlighted that the number of stops of black men between the ages of 14 and 24 (168,126 ) exceeded the total city population of black men in that age range (158,406).
Along with the wildly disproportionate stops, blacks and Latinos were more likely to get frisked. Yet they yielded a smaller percentage of weapons than whites. The NYCLU produced these charts demonstrating the disparities:
On Bloomberg’s weekly radio show last month, Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended the stop-and-frisk strategy, whose increased application they credit with a 50 percent drop in the city’s murder rate, but it’s not at all clear how this strategy produced such an outcome. Comparing 2003 and 2011, stops increased by more than half a million while only 172 more guns were found. That’s a jump of finding one gun for every 266 stops versus one gun per every 3,000 stops.