New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly has become an infamous architect of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which a federal judge recently deemed partially unconstitutional due to disproportionate targeting of black and Latino men. In a Playboy interview released Friday, Kelly defended the practice vehemently and insisted that people of color are actually very pleased with stop-and-frisk.
When Glenn Plaskin of Playboy pointed out to Kelly that most New Yorkers believe stop-and-frisk is excessive, the police commissioner argued that minority communities actually want stop-and-frisk. “What you have is government by advocacy group,” Kelly said. “Among the people, there’s no groundswell against stop-and-frisk—certainly not in minority communities. I’m there all the time. They want more proactive policing.”
Plaskin tried again, asking, “Can you understand how some young men of color who have been stopped for no reason may hate your guts?”
Kelly, who was booed offstage recently at Brown University, claimed that young men of color actually love him and come up to him all the time to take pictures with him. “You might read something snarky on Twitter, but I could take you right now to 125th Street in Harlem and young men will stop me for my picture and give me a very favorable and friendly greeting,” he said. “They understand that we’re saving lives in their community, that they’re the ones at risk.”
Kelly also told Playboy he ignores media criticism of his leadership, so he may not have seen the numerous polls showing stop-and-frisk’s unpopularity, particularly among people of color. Nearly two-thirds of all New Yorkers and 80 percent of African Americans think the NYPD favors white people.
Perhaps undermining Kelly’s claims of fandom in Harlem, a recent study from the Vera Institute of Justice found that stop-and-frisk directly increases mistrust of police and dissuades young people from reporting crimes. People who have been stopped become less likely to report a crime every time they are stopped. Given that most young black men in the city are personally frisked multiple times a year, this mistrust is surely hindering police investigations.