With more than 600,601 stops, 87 percent of which were of Black and Latino New Yorkers, last year was the worst year for stop-and-frisks since the City began keeping records. For many children, being stopped by the police on their way home from school has become a normal afterschool activity, and that is a tragedy.CCR has found significant racial disparities for stop-and-frisks over the last decade based on NYPD data turned over by court order.The preliminary numbers reported yesterday indicate a 4 percent rise in the number of stops of New Yorkers by the police over the previous year – an additional 25,000 stops.A February 23 NYPD press release makes the bold claim, “Stops save lives,” yet the department has never been able to prove that stop-and-frisk even reduces crime. Only 0.13 percent of last year’s stops resulted in the discovery of a firearm, and only 7 percent of the stops resulted in arrests. The weapons and contraband yield from stop-and-frisks is the same as that from random check points.Ten years’ worth of previous data show that NYPD officers use physical force at a far higher rate during stops of Blacks and Latinos compared to Whites, and that this disparity exists despite corresponding rates of arrest and weapons or contraband yield across racial lines, which further supports our legal claims that the NYPD is engaged in a pattern of racial profiling in its stop-and-frisk practices.
The NYPD now presents its statistics on stop-and-frisks by race paired with its statistics for violent crime suspect by race in a way meant to imply that the disproportionate stops of Black and Latino New Yorkers is justified, when in fact it proves the police are racially profiling the people they stop. The data up until the last quarter of 2010 (all that is currently available for this statistic) reveal that “fits relevant description” is the reason for actual stops only 15 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 when the police deem someone to appear to be “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. CCR will release the numbers for the most recent year when we receive the complete raw data.
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.
This kind of heavy-handed policing promotes mistrust and fear of police officers in communities of color, and only serves to make the police’s job more difficult. Stop-and-frisk is bad public policy.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.