The New York Police Department is on track to make its 5 millionth stop-and-frisk today, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. The controversial program, which directs police to stop suspicious-looking people on the street and frisk them for weapons or drugs, has come under fire for disproportionately targeting minorities, while showing little discernible impact on crime.
Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002, NYPD officers have stopped 4.4 million innocent people, the vast majority of whom were black or Latino:
About 4.4 million of the stop-and-frisk encounters, or 88 percent, were of innocent people as they did not result in an arrest or summons. More than 86 percent of people stopped were black or Latino.
At 5 million, the NYPD has stopped more than the combined populations of Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC. The racial bias is glaringly obvious; in 2011, the police stopped young black men more times than the total number of young black men in New York City.
The NYPD’s relationship with minority communities has become especially strained by the program’s overzealous targeting of young black and Latino men, culminating in the death of a 16-year-old boy, Kimani Gray, last weekend. Gray. Police stopped Gray for suspiciously adjusting his belt. Gray then allegedly pulled a gun on the officers, forcing them to shoot him multiple times. However, the autopsy found several bullets hit Gray from behind, and eyewitnesses claim Gray was unarmed.
Stop-and-frisk is not only harming New Yorkers’ trust in the police — it’s also using their money. Stop-and-frisk cost New York City taxpayers $22 million in civil rights lawsuits last year.
On Monday, a federal district judge will hear the broadest legal challenge to stop-and-frisk yet, and could decide to do away with the program entirely.