After years of steady increases and rising criticism from minority communities and civil libertarians, the number of "stop and frisks" conducted by the NYPD dropped 25 percent in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2011, police officials said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly attributed the decrease to a drop in new recruits used to saturate special high-crime areas known as impact zones, as well as better training and record-keeping.
"We engaged in a major training evolution where we trained all of our impact officers . . . in a more focused way in terms of conducting stop, question and sometimes frisk," explained Kelly.
In the second quarter, police recorded 133,934 stop-and-frisk reports, a drop of 25.1 percent from a year earlier, police spokesman Paul Browne said. Compared with the first quarter, stop and frisk activity was down 34 percent, Brown said.
The full report won't be available until later. More than 685,000 stop and frisk reports were filed in 2011.
The marked decrease was seen as a step in the right direction by the New York Civil Liberties Union, long a critic of police for perceived racial profiling.
"We're encouraged to see that the number of street stops dropped over the year's second quarter, but the stop-and-frisk data that was leaked to the press doesn't say anything about the number of innocent New Yorkers who were stopped during that period," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU.
"This reduction is a good start, but much more needs to be done to rebuild community trust," Lieberman said.
Browne said that of the stop and frisks conducted in the quarter, 54 percent involved black individuals, 32 percent involved Hispanics, 10 percent detained white people and 2 percent involved those of Asian descent. Of frisk subject descriptions used by police to make the stops, which differs due to perceptions reported in radio calls, 66 percent described black subjects, 26 percent Hispanics, 6 percent whites and 2 percent Asians, said Browne.
While city Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), head of the public safety committee, agreed that better training may be contributing to the drop, he also said the NYPD may be reaching the realization that it is at its limit in terms of police morale and public sentiment.