The New York Police Department stopped and frisked a lot fewer people in the last few months than it did in the same time last year, cutting back on the practice by 80 percent. It’s the fifth quarterly drop in the last six quarters, The Wall Street Journal notes, and the sharpest. NYPD spokesman John McCarthy told the Associated Press there was no “predetermined or correct number of stops,” saying, “ultimately, police officers make their decisions based on real-time observations from the field — and those stops are based on reasonable suspicion.” But the numbers would suggest cops are increasingly over it.
Police reported 21,187 stop-and-frisks for the quarter, down from 105,988 the same time last year. Just last quarter, stop-and-frisks hit a nearly ten-year low, with 58,088. At the practice’s peak in 2011, the NYPD reported 685,000 stop-and-frisks.
As it happens, a judge declared the practice unconstitutional halfway through the year’s third quarter, which includes July, August, and September. A federal appeals court subsequently blocked that verdict, but not until late October. But the NYPD is not publicly linking that court case to the practice’s decline.
Fewer stops means fewer weapons being seized. “The number of arrests resulting from stops dropped 62%, while the number of weapons recovered fell 53%,” the Journal reports. “Officers recovered 99 firearms, down from 198 last year, and 463 knives, down from 1,016,” the AP notes. But crime has been steadily declining so far, with New York on track to beat last year’s 419 murder rate by 100. Commissioner Ray Kelly credited stop-and-frisk with the decline, calling it “basic to police work,” but as the latest numbers show, it may be basic but it’s also less and less common.