The NYPD Is Stopping and Frisking a Lot Less These Days

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Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images2012 Getty Images

Even as it defends the practice of stop-and-frisk after a judge ruled it unconstitutional, the NYPD is doing it a lot less than it has in years. Lawyers for the city sent the department's latest statistics to Judge Shira A. Scheindlin on Tuesday as part of their request to stave off changes to the department, the New York Times reports. So while the city argues that Judge Scheindlin should refrain from imposing new rules on the NYPD (such as an outside monitor and police wearing body cameras), until it appeals the decision, the department has apparently decided to dial back the tactic on the street.

The change is dramatic: Police carried out 58,088 stops in the second quarter of 2013, compared with 99,788 in the first. It's a 57 percent drop from the second quarter of 2012, when they did 133,934 stops, The Wall Street Journal adds, and far less than the 203,500 stops in the first quarter of 2012. In fact, April through June saw the fewest involuntary NYPD stops in a almost a decade.

Crime, meanwhile, continues to decline, according to numbers the mayor's office has announced they will be releasing every Monday. "As of Sunday, New York saw 77 fewer murders in 2013 than in the same period in 2012 — a drop of about 27% from 290 in 2012 to 213 this year," the New York Daily News reports. The implication, according to the Daily News, "is that reining in the NYPD could return the city to 1990, when the city recorded 2,245 murders." And attorney Jonathan Moore, who brought the lawsuit over stop-and-frisk on which Scheindlin ruled, said Bloomberg was "trying to instill fear in the public" with the numbers.

But that sort of misses the point that both crime and stop-and-frisk are declining simultaneously. And those who study police work can't find a provable link to stop-and-frisk as a crime reducer. But both the murder rate and the rate of involuntary police stops are numbers one wants to see decline, so in that way, we might cautiously consider this to be some good news.