Group: NYPD stop-frisk racially motivated

Political activist Dr. Cornel West is taken into

Political activist Dr. Cornel West is taken into custody by New York City police officers at a "Stop and Frisk" policy protest in Harlem. (Oct. 21, 2011) (Credit: AP)

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The mushrooming number of stop-and-frisks done last year by the NYPD targeted large numbers of black and Latino New Yorkers and appears to be the result of racial profiling, according to an analysis of police data by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Over 87 percent of the street stops by police involved blacks and Latinos, the report stated, adding that 57.5 percent of those groups stopped were frisked. Whites accounted for 9.3 percent of all stops and were then frisked about 44 percent of the time.

"The report today provides powerful evidence that . . . there is in fact racial profiling going on," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU told Newsday. "The sheer volume of the program is astounding and alarming."

The study also concluded that nearly 700,000 stops done last year by cops recovered 780 guns, an increase of only 176 over 2003 when police carried out about 161,000 stops, results that Lieberman said showed stop and frisks were an inefficient tactic that alienated minority communities.

The police tactic is an emerging 2013 mayoral campaign issue. City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, one of the Democratic contenders, said Monday it was time for Bloomberg to reduce stop and frisks.

City Hall and the NYPD reacted with sharply worded statements Wednesday.

"When Bill de Blasio last served in the [city government] there were 2,000 murders a year. Today we are on track to have less than 500 -- a record new low. Mr. de Blasio may be nostalgic for the days when the ACLU set crime policy in this city, but most New Yorkers don't want rampant crime to return," Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said in a statement.

"Stops can't be measured by race of the resident population as the NYCLU tries to do, but by the race of individuals committing the crimes," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement. "They could point out in any given precinct that the precinct population is over 50 percent women, but we stop men 90 percent of the time. That's because 90 percent of the perp population is men."

Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), head of the City Council public safety committee, favors stop-and-frisk activity but is willing to debate changes. But eliminating the program will lead to more deaths by gunfire, he said.

"The mayor has to give police guidance," said Andrew Karmen, criminologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, adding that pressure to reduce murders leads to more stop-and-frisks.

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