New York City Police officers watch over a demonstration against...

New York City Police officers watch over a demonstration against the city's "stop-and-frisk" searches in lower Manhattan near Federal Court on March 18, 2013. Credit: Getty Images

NYPD officers conducted nearly 50 percent fewer stop-and-frisk encounters in the first quarter of this year than they did in 2014, but the percentage of minorities stopped was still greater than 80 percent, close to the level reported in previous quarters, the latest statistics show.

Keeping in line with Commissioner William Bratton's policy of reducing the number of stops, the NYPD performed a total of 7,135 stop-and-frisks in the first quarter of 2015, down from 14,261 in the same period last year, a decline of 49.9 percent, police data showed.

Data for the 2015 second quarter, which ended June 30, wasn't available late Tuesday.

The controversy over the stop-and-frisks, which resulted in federal litigation and the appointment of a special monitor, focused largely on the fact that the number of black and Hispanics stopped was 87 percent in some years. In 2013 Manhattan federal Judge Shira Scheindlin determined that the police appeared to unconstitutionally target minorities.

Since 2011, when stop-and-frisks totaled more than 686,000 a year, the numbers have been in steady decline and plummeted when Bratton took office, amounting to just 46,235 stops last year.

The NYPD data, which is routinely reported to the City Council, has shown that the percentage of blacks and Hispanics subjected to stop-and-frisk encounters has declined slightly, but last quarter amounted to 81.5 percent: 51.7 percent of stops were blacks and 29.7 percent were Hispanics. The percentage of whites stopped was 12.1 percent, Asians 4.4 percent with other ethnic groups making up the remainder.

In the first quarter of 2014, blacks were subjected to 54 percent of the stops, Hispanics 29 percent, whites 12 percent and Asians 5 percent, police statistics show.

Bratton and other police officials have maintained that police are conducting stops in line with reports of the ethnicity of crime suspects coming from largely minority neighborhoods. But some advocates, while applauding the drop in stops, said the continuing high percentage of minorities stopped reflects a skewing of policing toward quality-of-life enforcement such as public urination and littering.

"That they are doing it [stop-and-frisk] in a limited way is good thing, but fundamentally the approach to law enforcement is same under Bratton and [Mayor Bill] de Blasio," said Robert Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project, a critic of the NYPD and Bratton's broken-windows policy.

Ex-NYPD detective supervisor Joseph Giacalone, who now lectures on crime, said the stops in minority areas reflects their higher crime rates.

"I don't think it is anything more than police going where the crime is," Giacalone said.

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