The number of stop-and-frisks performed by the New York Police Department dropped in the first three months of 2013, and so did the city’s crime rate, according to new data from the New York City Council. The statistics come as the NYPD’s aggressive use of stop-and-frisk is under review in a major lawsuit challenging the practice’s constitutionality. Plaintiffs allege an expansive and racist use of police stops has been applied without legal justification, subjecting vast swaths of the city’s young African American and Hispanic men to invasive frisks, unwarranted searches, and detention at police centers for alleged minor crimes, often marijuana possession.
The latest statistics represent a continued slow decline in stops since the practice has come under fire, but the stops continue to have a severe disproportionate effect on minorities. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The number of stop-and-frisk reports filed by New York City police fell 51% in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year. […]
From Jan. 1 through March 31, officers conducted 99,788 stop and frisks, compared with 203,500 during the same period in 2012, according to New York Police Department data. It wasn’t clear how many of those encounters resulted in a subject being frisked after a stop.
They also showed that the reduced stops in the first quarter of 2013 resulted in a 43% decline in weapons recovered compared with the same period in 2012.
Overall crime is also down 2.7% this year through April 28 with murders leading the way with a 30% decline compared with the same period last year, police data show. […]
Data from the first quarter of this year has been consistent with previous years: Black and Hispanic people accounted for the vast majority of stops.
African-Americans were the subjects of 56% of the stops and were 65% of the violent-crime suspects identified by alleged victims, according to the NYPD data. Hispanics were the subjects of 30% of stops and were 27% of violent-crime suspects.
Police argue that the stop-and-frisk policy is necessary to ensure public safety. But the New York Civil Liberties Union is pointing out that the drop in crime — particularly murder – weighs heavily against the argument that more frivolous stops means more safety. Last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NY) blasted the NYCLU for its advocacy to reform stop-and-frisks, calling the civil rights group “extremists” akin to the NRA.