August 11, 2010, New York, NY – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the statement below in response to a summary of stop-and-frisk statistics for April, May, and June 2010 made available to the press. CCR receives the complete raw data on all NYPD stop-and-frisks by court order through our case, Floyd v. City of New York.
Last year was the worst year for stop-and-frisks on record, with more than half a million New Yorkers stopped by police, and now we see an even sharper increase for this spring. For many children, getting stopped by the police while walking home from school has become a normal afterschool activity, and that is tragic. The public has demanded constructive change and an end to racially-biased policing by the NYPD, and the department has responded by stepping up the practice instead of retiring it.
CCR has found significant racial disparities for stop-and-frisks over the last decade based on NYPD data turned over by court order. CCR, which represents victims of the NYPD’s racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk policies in a class action lawsuit, will receive more comprehensive data than the summary numbers released to the City Council yesterday and will provide those results as soon as they are available.
Meanwhile, the preliminary numbers reported indicate a 21 percent rise in the number of New Yorkers being stopped by the police over the same period last year, with 88 percent of the New Yorkers stopped being Black and Hispanic. By contrast, from 2005 to 2008, approximately 80 percent of total stops made were of Blacks and Latinos, who comprise approximately 25 percent and 28 percent of New York City’s total population, respectively.
The City often claims the racial disparity in stops is accounted for by the racial breakdown of crime suspects, but the data to date reveal that “fits relevant description” is the reason for actual stops only percent of the time. Far and away the most often cited reason for a stop by the police is the vague and undefined, “furtive movements” (nearly 50 percent of all stops) and “casing a victim or location” (nearly 30 percent of all stops). Also listed are “inappropriate attire for season,” “wearing clothes commonly used in a crime,” and “suspicious bulge,” among other boxes an officer can check off on the form. Though these statistics do not include the most recent quarter, we are confident the numbers will not have changed radically given their consistency over the past 10 years.
Only 1.3 percent of last year’s stops resulted in the discovery of a weapon, and only 6 percent of the stops resulted in arrests. The number of arrests rose by one percent in this recent period.
This kind of heavy-handed policing promotes mistrust, doubt, and fear of police officers in communities of color, and only serves to make the police’s job more difficult.
Police stops and frisks without reasonable suspicion violate the Fourth Amendment, and racial profiling is a violation of fundamental rights and protections of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On January 31, 2008, CCR and the law firms of Beldock, Levine & Hoffman and Covington & Burling filed a class action lawsuit charging the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling and suspicion-less stop-and-frisks of New Yorkers.
Earlier data and other documents are available at www.ccrjustice/stopandfrisk. A ruling by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin required the NYPD to make public all raw stop-and-frisk data from1998 through the present in relation to the case, Floyd v. City of New York.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org.