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Pols want reform of NYPD stop-and-frisk policy after record high

Opponents of ‘stop-and-frisk' policy rally on Jan. 27

Opponents of ‘stop-and-frisk' policy rally on Jan. 27 in the Bronx. (January 27, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Pols and civil liberties groups demanded reform of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy -- which the agency says can be a life-saver -- on Tuesday after new data revealed 2011 was a record year for the practice.

NYPD stats show cops stopped and questioned 684,330 people in 2011, skyrocketing 603% from 2002, when police began collecting such data.

Last year, just 12% of stops resulted in an actual arrest or summons, while the majority of those involved -- 87% -- were either black or Latino.

"The NYPD can't hope to build bridges if it keeps burning them," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who joined several officials outside of City Hall on Tuesday to denounce the policy as discriminatory.

A police spokesman defended the practice: "Stops save lives." He pointed to the city's murder rate declining to 5,430 from 11,058 over the past 10 years during Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure.

Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), chairman of the public safety committee, added that the policy helps keep guns off the streets and the fatal shooting of a Brooklyn officer in December is "hard evidence to continue it."

With the NYPD keeping a hard line on stop-and-frisks, changing the policy will require legislative action in Albany, said Eugene O'Donnell, a police studies expert at John Jay College.

The issue, however, "hasn't transferred politically to a larger audience," O'Donnell added.

Joseph Midgley, 47, of the Bronx, said that's because stop-and-frisks typically affect the "disenfranchised." He said he was frisked in a subway station in Upper Manhattan last November, but was let go without incident.

"There needs to be more sensitivity training," said Midgley, who is black.

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