“I understand why some people have called for stops to be eliminated entirely,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Sunday before The First Baptist Church of Brownsville about the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program. “But there is no denying that stops take guns off the street and save lives … I believe the practice needs to be mended, not ended, to ensure that stops are conducted appropriately, with as much courtesy as possible.”
Of course observers have denied the value of the program, not only because the mayor’s proffered number of guns seized and lives saved is inconsistent with statistics, but also because the program invades individual freedoms, most frequently for blacks or Latinos.
Gerald Seabrooks of Rehoboth Cathedral Church, who’s part of the Brooklyn Clergy–NYPD Task Force, took issue with the nature of the stops. “There is a lot of crime in the African-American community,” he said, adding, “You can stop me 25 times a day, however you have to treat people with courtesy.” After all, the NYPD motto is “Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect.”
In May, the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that the department would be making changes to the program in the form of increased training, more oversight, and outreach to prevent racial profiling.
But the NYCLU will almost certainly blast the mayor’s defense of the program Sunday as a public relations stunt. Tellingly, the mayor used the word “mend.” NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman wrote in May, “The mayor and commissioner need to give up the spin and recognize that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program is fundamentally broken.”