With more than 600,601 stops, 87 percent of which were of Black and Latino New Yorkers, last year was the worst year for stop-and-frisks since the City began keeping records. For many children, being stopped by the police on their way home from school has become a normal afterschool activity, and that is a tragedy.
CCR has found significant racial disparities for stop-and-frisks over the last decade based on NYPD data turned over by court order.
The preliminary numbers reported yesterday indicate a 4 percent rise in the number of stops of New Yorkers by the police over the previous year – an additional 25,000 stops.
A February 23 NYPD press release makes the bold claim, “Stops save lives,” yet the department has never been able to prove that stop-and-frisk even reduces crime. Only 0.13 percent of last year’s stops resulted in the discovery of a firearm, and only 7 percent of the stops resulted in arrests. The weapons and contraband yield from stop-and-frisks is the same as that from random check points.
Ten years’ worth of previous data show that NYPD officers use physical force at a far higher rate during stops of Blacks and Latinos compared to Whites, and that this disparity exists despite corresponding rates of arrest and weapons or contraband yield across racial lines, which further supports our legal claims that the NYPD is engaged in a pattern of racial profiling in its stop-and-frisk practices.
The NYPD now presents its statistics on stop-and-frisks by race paired with its statistics for violent crime suspect by race in a way meant to imply that the disproportionate stops of Black and Latino New Yorkers is justified, when in fact it proves the police are racially profiling the people they stop. The data up until the last quarter of 2010 (all that is currently available for this statistic) reveal that “fits relevant description” is the reason for actual stops only 15 percent of the time. Far and away the most often cited reason for a stop by the police is the vague and undefined “furtive movements” (nearly 50 percent of all stops) and when the police deem someone to appear to be “casing a victim or location” (nearly 30 percent of all stops). Also listed are “inappropriate attire for season,” “wearing clothes commonly used in a crime” and “suspicious bulge,” among other boxes an officer can check off on the form. CCR will release the numbers for the most recent year when we receive the complete raw data.
Police stops-and-frisks without reasonable suspicion violate the Fourth Amendment, and racial profiling is a violation of fundamental rights and protections of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This kind of heavy-handed policing promotes mistrust and fear of police officers in communities of color, and only serves to make the police’s job more difficult. Stop-and-frisk is bad public policy.
In addition to litigating the racial disparities in the NYPD stop-and-frisk practices, CCR has launched a 15-second public service announcement on the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square to raise awareness of the issue. The spot will appear hourly through the end of March and be viewed by millions of New Yorkers, visitors and even members of the police department. The image of a 20-foot high red stop sign is followed by a counter spinning rapidly until it hits the number of stop-and-frisks of New Yorkers in one year. The text under the number is simple and true: “Almost 90% People of Color. Stop-and-Frisk Does Not Reduce Crime.”
CCR and the law firms of Beldock, Levine & Hoffman and Covington & Burling filed a class action lawsuit on January 31, 2008, charging the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling and suspicion-less stop-and-frisks of New Yorkers.