The NYPD's Criminal Stop-and-Frisk Record

The police department's policy amounts to racial profiling and the illegal harassment of thousands of New Yorkers a day
May 2012
The Guardian

Last week, the New York Police Department released quarterly data on its stop-and-frisk program. The numbers are worse than ever, and they confirm everything that is wrong with this practice.

From January through March 2012, 203,500 New Yorkers were stopped and frisked. That's an average of 2,200 people per day. Twenty-two hundred people a day, many of whom are stopped for no reason – or the wrong reason, like the color of their skin, or their age, or their gender expression – patted down, sometimes roughed-up, intimidated, asked for ID in their own neighborhood, sometimes in their own buildings, asked to empty their pockets. Twenty-two hundred people a day stopped by police as they walk down the street on their way home, to school, the corner deli, or to see friends. Twenty-two hundred people a day asked to justify their presence in the city in which they live.

This is already an outrage; but if you look further at the numbers, it's even more outrageous. Despite years of public outcry and lawsuits, the NYPD is stopping even more people than in previous years. In 2011, the department stopped a record 685,724 New Yorkers, a 600% increase since Raymond Kelly took over as police commissioner in 2002. But the 2012 numbers are on track to be still worse. At the rate it's going, the NYPD will stop nearly three-quarters of a million New Yorkers in 2012.

Eight-seven per cent of the people stopped by the NYPD in the first quarter of 2012 were black or Latino, while only 54% of the city's population is black or Latino. Despite claims to the contrary, the data show that even when you take other factors into consideration – including crime rates –stops are disproportionately concentrated in black and Latino neighborhoods. And in all neighborhoods, blacks and Latinos are significantly more likely to be stopped than whites. The data also show that NYPD officers use physical force more often when stopping blacks and Latinos.

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Last modified 

March 14, 2014