The new stop-and-frisk directive NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton rolled out this week is necessary to repair the fractured relationship between blacks and police. Anyone who disagrees should read the disturbing Justice Department report released Wednesday about policing in Ferguson, Missouri, before Michael Brown's fatal shooting in August exposed a systemic violation of constitutional rights.
Fewer than 7 in 10 Ferguson residents were black from 2012 to 2014. But 9 in 10 people arrested, subjected to police force, cited for traffic violations or even jaywalking were black.
For years the racial disparity in stop and frisks in New York City mirrored arrests in Ferguson. Eight in 10 of the 685,724 stops the NYPD made in 2011 involved blacks or Hispanics, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, though they were only half the city's population. The practice was curtailed in 2013 after a federal court ruled it appeared to be unconstitutional.
That disparity is why the new stop-and-frisk rules Bratton announced can go a long way to repair the fractured relationship between blacks and police.
City cops must now have "an individualized, reasonable suspicion" that a person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime to justify a stop and frisk. A hunch is no longer enough. Neither are vague "furtive movements," a generalized description or presence in a high-crime area, which can no longer be described so broadly that it includes an entire precinct or borough.
In essence, the directive tells police they must respect the rights of minority men to go about their business free from unreasonable searches. That shouldn't be the least bit controversial. It's just good policing. Unfortunately PBA president Pat Lynch doesn't see it that way. "The result is making a difficult job more difficult and dangerous for members," he said of Bratton's new directive.
Policing is tough work. But respect for the rights of the people policed is nonnegotiable.