In an almost unbelievable coincidence, a pro-stop-and-frisk news article appeared in the New York Post today immediately after a federal judge once again ruled against the city with regard to the controversial police tactic. According to the Post, “In the month after federal judge Shira Scheindlin’s decision that the police procedure is unconstitutional, shootings spiked nearly 13 percent — and gun seizures plummeted more than 17 percent, The Post has learned.” Anonymous police sources taught them all about it, with little regard from either side for fact or intellectual honesty.
While the percentages may sound scary — spiked! plummeted! — the numbers, pulled from an impossibly small sample size, don’t tell us much of anything. “During the 28 days ending Sept. 8, there were 140 shootings across the Big Apple, compared with 124 during the same period last year,” the Post reports, a gain of 16. “Meanwhile, cops seized only 239 firearms between Aug. 10 and Sept. 8, compared with 289 weapons taken off the streets during the same period last year.”
Okay, so surely something Judge Scheindlin ordered is to blame, right? Not quite. As the AP reported following the court’s refusal to delay the ruling pending appeal:
[Scheindlin] said the vast majority of the overhaul won’t be implemented until the monitor and the facilitator meet with the community, the police department and other stakeholders to create sensible solutions.
“In short, the only activity at this stage is discussion between the monitor, the facilitator and the parties to develop the remedies,” she said. “No other specific relief is imminent, much less ordered.”
In the very small amount of time the Post is zooming in on, nothing actually changed about policing. It was the perception of change that led to more shootings, the “sources” told the Post, perfectly echoing Michael Bloomberg and Ray Kelly’s talking points after the original ruling. “Shootings are going through the roof now because perps are not afraid to carry a gun,” a source said. “Before the ruling, when police were proactively stopping people, guys would not carry a gun unless they knew they were going to do a shooting.” What? You’re going to get shot, that’s what!
To hear them tell it, the only possible explanation for sixteen more shootings within a few-week period, year over year, is that criminals are emboldened.
The mayor, too, chimed in to the chorus of scaremongering. Asked about the judge’s ruling “against you on the appeal,” a very grumpy Bloomberg — like, even more than usual — said, “No, no, she didn’t rule against me — she ruled against the people of the city.” (Then, paradoxically, he added, “I don’t know why it’s even newsworthy, and I don’t know that anybody even covered it other than a tiny bit.”) But the subtext of the coordinated effort is clear: You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone.