Faced with an increase in shootings in recent months, the NYPD is studying whether the big drop in stop-and-frisk encounters has impacted crime, Police Commissioner William Bratton said Wednesday.
From a high of nearly 700,000 police stops in 2011, the number plummeted to about 191,588 in 2013, NYPD data show.
In the first quarter of 2014, 14,261 people were stopped, compared with 99,788 in the same period a year earlier.
The decline in stop-and-frisks comes at a time when the city has been experiencing a persistent increase in shootings in recent months, even though most other serious crimes are going down.
Some criminologists have mulled the question of whether the decline in stops has had an impact on the level of shootings, which are up 11.2 percent this year, according to the NYPD.
Overall crime was down 2.5 percent through Sunday.
"We have a very comprehensive analysis underway to get a sense of if stop, question and frisk, the decline in it, is having any impact on overall crime," Bratton told reporters Wednesday.
"At this juncture, we really don't know," Bratton said. "Once that study is completed over the next several weeks we will have a better idea of that."
Bratton's expression of uncertainty comes about two weeks after he expressed doubts to reporters that there was any connection.
An NYPD spokesman said the stop-and-frisk activity is one of a number of parameters to be included in the study, which will encompass 2012 to 2014.
Richard Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, welcomed the NYPD's research.
"My initial thought is, 'It's about time,' " Rosenfeld said by telephone.
Earlier this year, Rosenfeld unveiled a study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of six years of NYPD stop-and-frisk activity.
Rosenfeld's review of crime at the census-tract level suggested that stop-and-frisk activity had a modest effect on robberies, assaults and, possibly, homicides.
Stop-and-frisk activity during former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's tenure spawned a hard-fought federal lawsuit by civil libertarians representing some minority plaintiffs.
Last year, Manhattan federal Judge Shira Scheindlin found that NYPD stop-and-frisk activity was practiced unconstitutionally and ordered the appointment of a federal monitor.
However, a federal appeals court removed Sheindlin from the case later, claiming she ran afoul of the judicial code of conduct and reassigned the matter to another judge.
The city settled the lawsuit earlier this year and has agreed to work with a federal monitor.
Rosenfeld said that he and professor David Weisburd of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, are conducting separate studies of NYPD stops through 2012, with some review of 2013, which will be ready about the time the police study is expected to be finished.