Blake Zeff writes: In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYPD is stopping large numbers of innocent people walking down the street each day — questioning them as to their whereabouts and invasively frisking their bodies in a hunt for weapons and drugs. The stops are almost entirely (nearly nine in ten) targeting young black and Latino men. The overwhelming majority of those stopped are doing nothing wrong (just 6 percent of stops lead to arrests, and a small fraction of those are ever prosecuted). And it’s having a deleterious effect on the psyche of the targets (as well as community relations with police).
How disconcerting is the program’s execution — which currently allows officers to stop anyone committing a “furtive” movement (whatever that is)? This past week, a federal judge in Manhattan, Shira Scheindlin, heard arguments as to whether the stops — whose numbers have soared to roughly 700,000 per year, according to the force’s own estimates — are actually even constitutional. During the course of the proceedings, it was revealed that NYPD engaged in an illegal quota system and that officers were intentionally targeting young black men.
Of course, if you watched any number of interviews with Mayor Bloomberg on national TV this past week or two, you’d have no idea of any of this. [Continue reading…]