Stop-and-Frisk Fails to Get Guns Off The Street Or Reduce Shootings

In spite of the NYPD’s aggressive stop-and-frisk program, the number of guns seized off the street has dropped, DNAinfo reports. The controversial practice of randomly stopping and searching people — often black and Latino young men — has increased 600 percent since 2002, while the number of guns seized during these searches has steadily fallen.

DNAinfo’s analysis of NYPD data found:

During the past two years alone, the number of firearms seized by police has fallen 13.5 percent from 3,908 in 2009 with 510,742 frisks, to 3,443 last year, when the NYPD stopped and frisked a record-busting 685,724 New Yorkers. And last week the NYPD reported that during the first half of this year, firearm seizures continues to fall to 1,613, compared to 1,705 during the first six months of last year. The downturn came as the NYPD conducted 337,434 stops-and-frisks — a figure that keeps the NYPD on pace to match last year’s record-busting total.

By comparison, during Bloomberg’s first year in office in 2002, the NYPD recovered 4,069 guns — but the police stop-and-frisked only 96,000 people that year, according to NYPD data.

The NYPD justifies its stop-and-frisk program with this same data, attributing the fact that people are carrying fewer guns to a fear of getting stopped. But an earlier DNAinfo report also found the practice has had little impact on gun violence in New York, which has hovered around 1,800 for the past decade. The drop in gun seizures and almost unchanged shooting rates suggests stop-and-frisk has been ineffective even as it becomes more common.

The most noticeable effect the program has produced is the massive number of arrests for low-level marijuana possession — 50,684 in 2011, more than for any other offense. The police have continued to stop, frisk, and arrest young black and Latino men for marijuana possession, in spite of New York’s decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana possession and Commissioner Ray Kelly’s directive explicitly telling officers not to make misdemeanor arrests for marijuana possession.

As a result, the ramped up stop-and-frisk program has damaged minority communities’ trust in the police. In 2011, the NYPD stopped young black men more times than the total number of young black men in the entire city.