The New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy may not have had much effect on the number of shootings citywide, but it has certainly left its mark in ways that are harder to quantify. The searches, overwhelmingly conducted on men of color, have become a fact of life for black and Hispanic teenagers, many of whom are resigned to being treated differently than their white peers. But adults, too, are left with “raw feelings” after being frisked, according to an informal New York Times survey. Respondents describe that being called “sir” is not necessarily better than “bro” or “immigrant” while being forced to stop, although the common refrain “Where’s the weed?” is just plain rude. The department, though, is attempting to lighten up the interactions.
As part of Mayor Bloomberg and Ray Kelly’s “mending,” the department is now hosting a training course called, “The Nobility of Policing.” There’s also a receipt of sorts, complete with a little mea culpa:
The department recently distributed thousands of wallet-size cards — labeled “What Is A Stop, Question and Frisk Encounter?” — to precincts across the city. Officers have been encouraged to give the cards to people they have stopped; at the bottom of the card is essentially a one-sentence, conditional apology: “If you have been stopped and were not involved in any criminal activity, the N.Y.P.D. regrets any inconvenience.”
Gothamist took a visit last week to the “Nobility” class press day, which included live demonstrations in which only a white man (a volunteering officer) was detained. “The combination of cloying overtures from the famously brusque NYPD press officers with a training facility that resembled a movie set made the entire experience feel like a Hollywood B-movie, Field Trip: Stop & Frisk,” the reporter present wrote.
Those actually on the street scoff similarly at the attempts to be polite. “They talk to you like you’re ignorant, like you’re an animal,” one man explained to the Times. A recently frisked 18-year-old said that after he was searched, the officer told him to stay safe. “Stay safe?” he said. “After he just did all that?” A police academy version of finishing school doesn’t quite cover it.