Bloomberg remark stirs up stop and frisk debate
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg sparked a furor Friday when he said he believed police stop and frisk whites too often and minorities not enough, based on statistics on murder suspects in the city.
Bloomberg's remarks came after the City Council on Thursday passed two measures creating a police inspector general and making it easier for people to sue police over "bias-profiling." He has vowed to veto both pieces of legislation.
While talking on his weekly radio segment on WOR radio about city crime trends, Bloomberg said criticism that police disproportionately stopped and frisked some groups was off-base.
"It's not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murders," the mayor said, according to transcript provided by City Hall.
"In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little," he said.
Several Democratic mayoral candidates assailed Bloomberg's remarks.
"Outrageous and insulting," said former Comptroller Bill Thompson, who would keep the stop-and-frisk policy with some modifications.
"I honestly didn't believe he said it. I couldn't believe that that thoughtless a comment, that inappropriate a comment, that clearly just-wrong comment, came out of the mouth of the mayor of the City of New York, and yes, I was offended," said Thompson, the only black candidate for mayor.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, "We have too many stops that overwhelmingly focus on young men of color, yielding very few weapons."
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, "The city's own data show the vast majority of stops are of innocent black and Latino New Yorkers."
Republicans Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis declined to comment.
A City Hall official who asked not to be identified said NYPD statistics back up Bloomberg's comment.
"If you are looking at the numbers, you could say whites are overstopped," the official said. "That is the math."
Police data on 419 homicides in 2012 show some 90 percent of suspects were black or Latino, and 7 percent white.
According to NYPD stop-and-frisk data in 2012, whites were stopped 9.7 percent of the time and comprised 6.9 percent of all known violent crime suspects. Blacks comprised 55 percent of persons stopped, and 61.3 percent of violent crime suspects. Hispanics were 32 percent of persons stopped, and 29.2 percent of violent crime suspects.
Among suspects for all crimes, blacks comprised 50.7 percent, Hispanics 31.8 percent and whites 13.8 percent.
Bloomberg is vowing to work at swaying some council members to his position on the police bills so that he could sustain a veto. The profile measure passed with the 34-17 majority, the minimum needed to override a veto, while the inspector general bill passed by an even wider margin.