A detailed new report from the NYCLU crunches the numbers to back up the by now well-established criticism of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program: It targets pretty much only minorities. According to the data, 87 percent of those searched were black or Latino, while nine out of ten people frisked were innocent. The 685,724 stops in 2011 (up 600 percent since Bloomberg became mayor) resulted in 780 found guns, barely more than 604 guns seized from 160,851 stops in 2003. The police believe that’s because criminals are being scared into keeping their guns at home: “We think it is a prescriptive result we may be seeing,” said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
The NYCLU has a different take. “The NYPD’s own data undermine many of the Bloomberg administration’s justifications for the stop-and-frisk program,” said executive director Donna Liberman. “Contrary to the mayor and police commissioner’s assertions, the massive spike in the number of stops has done little to remove firearms from the streets. Instead, it has violated the constitutional rights of millions of people and corroded the ability of communities of color to trust and respect the police.”
Other fun facts from the findings: “Black and Latino New Yorkers were more likely to be frisked than whites and were less likely to be found with a weapon,” and “The number of stops of young black men exceeded the entire city population of young black men (168,126 as compared to 158,406).”
Mayoral candidates like Public Advocate Bill de Blasio are using the occasion to reiterate their opposition to excessive searches, while Comptroller John Liu came right out and said the practice “should be abolished.” On Twitter, Mayor Bloomberg’s deputy Howard Wolfson snarked, “a race to the left and a return to high crime.”