NYPD Commissioner William Bratton Friday credited policies put in place by his predecessor, Ray Kelly, as contributing to the sharp decline in the number of stop and frisks in recent years.
Bratton also noted that the percentage of stops involving blacks and Hispanics had remained constant over the years, confirming a Newsday story this week reporting that stop and frisks of those minorities for the first quarter of 2014 were running at 83 percent, similar to levels in other recent quarters.
"It is unfortunate that there is a disproportionate amount of violence in certain communities, and that is a reality of life that we are trying to change, aggressively trying to change," Bratton said at a news briefing in Manhattan before he left to attend a crime conference in Israel.
"Stops have been going down for a couple of years," said Bratton, alluding to a trend that began in 2012 when stops started to decline from a high of nearly 700,000 in 2011. Bratton said the percentage of stops leading to arrests or summonses had increased, a sign that cops are making better decisions on who to question during stops.
"Commissioner Kelly issued new instructive and directives to department personnel, and the number of stop, question and frisks began to decline fairly dramatically," Bratton said.
He was referring to instructions Kelly issued in 2012 in which he told precinct executive officers that they would be responsible for the quality of stops made by their officers. Kelly took the action in the face of mounting public and City Council criticism, as well as a federal lawsuit, about the level of stops.
According to NYPD data, officers conducted 14,261 stops in the first three months of 2014, a drop of 86 percent from 99,788 in the same period in 2013.
"I am comfortable that the number of stops being conducted [are] appropriate to the actions our officers are seeing out in the field," Bratton said.
He said the stops are leading to either arrests or summonses nearly 20 percent of the time, compared with 10 percent last year.
Addressing the issue of violence in some communities, Bratton said a major problem for the NYPD is that many crime victims will not help investigators."We have a major problem in many communities with the highest violence in the city, where even the victims of the shootings and the stabbings will not cooperate with us," said Bratton, adding that one reason is "that the majority are criminals themselves."