John Liu writes: The numbers don’t lie: New York City police have conducted 5m “stop-and-frisk” searches since 2002. More than 86% of individuals targeted were black or Hispanic, and 88% were innocent of any crime. The stop-and-frisk tactic is clearly discriminatory, often humiliating, and totally ineffective. It must be abolished.
Just as astonishing as the raw numbers were the stories from my series of stop-and-frisk” town hall meetings last month in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. Young men and less-young men, black and brown, came to church halls and community rooms to tell of how, time and time again, they had been verbally abused by police, pushed up against walls, made to stand spreadeagled, and forced to empty their pockets – all for doing nothing wrong and while passers-by watched.
Rather than making the city safer, stop-and-frisk instils fear and undermines trust. If anything, this tactic is serving to deepen the chasm between communities and police – a relationship that is vital to maintaining a safe and secure city for all New Yorkers.
The policy is also a potential financial issue for the City and its taxpayers. As it is, claim settlements and judgments – including those involving civil rights actions – brought against the New York Police Department have risen from $74.1m in fiscal year 2002 to $185.6m in fiscal year 2011, according to numbers compiled by my office (pdf). Amidst this environment, stop-and-frisk has so angered communities that it is now at the heart of three federal lawsuits, one of them the class action case Floyd v the City of New York. [Continue reading…]