This morning, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy, saying it helped “take guns off the streets and save lives.” “Stop-and-frisk” is a policy strategy where officers stop and search “people they consider suspicious.”
Bloomberg did, however, acknowledge some issues with the program, saying the practice needed to be “mended not ended.”
Here are 10 important facts about the contentious program:
1. In 2011, NYC officers made 685,724 stops as part of the “stop-and-frisk” policy. Of that group, 605,328 people were determined not to have engaged in any unlawful behavior. [NYCLU]
2. Only 5.37% of all stops in a recent five-year period resulted in an arrest. In short, many people stopped did nothing wrong. [NYT, 5/17/12]
3. In 2009, 36% of the time officer failed to list an acceptable “suspected crime.” Reasonable suspicion of a crime is required to make a stop. [NYT, 5/17/12]
4. More than half of all stops last year were conducted “because the individual displayed ‘furtive movement’ — which is so vague as to be meaningless.” [NYT, 5/14/12]
5. Of those frisked in 2011, a weapon was found just 1.9% of the time. Frisks are supposed to be conducted “only when an officer reasonably suspects the person has a weapon.” [NYCLU]
6. 85% of those stopped were black or Hispanic even though those groups make up about half of NYC’s population. [NYT, 5/17/12]
7. Young black and Latino men account for 4.7% of NYC’s population but 41.6% of the stops in 2011. [NYCLU]
8. The number of stops involving young black men in 2011 (168,124) exceed the city’s population of young black men (158,406).[NYT, 5/15/12]
9. Even in overwhelmingly white neighborhoods, police stopped more blacks than whites.[NYT, 5/15/12]
10. In 2012, police are on pace to make more than 800,000 stops, more than twice the population of Miami. [NYT, 5/15/12]
Bloomberg and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently “endorsed a proposal to decriminalize the open possession of small amounts of marijuana,” a move intended to limit the number of arrests that result from stops. The announcement was praised by civil rights leaders.
Other New York City politicians, including City Council speaker Christine Quinn, have called for more dramatic reforms of the policy.