Stop-and-Frisk App Users on the Rise

The Android tool for recording police wrongdoing has taken off since its release last week.

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While Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly are quick to credit stop and frisk with the sharp decline in crime over the past decade, the NYCLU vehemently disagrees. According to its reports, the tactic is ineffective. Last year street stops increased 600 percent from Bloomberg’s first year in office. Of those who were stopped, 9 out of 10 were innocent — neither arrested nor ticketed — and 87 percent were black or Latino.

In a more sobering analysis, 41.6 percent of 2011 stops consisted of black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24. That demographic represents only 4.7 percent of the city’s population. And there were more stops of young black men than there are young black men in New York City.

Just last month a federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed by stopped victims who allege that the practice amounts to racial profiling. And last week city, state and federal officials from New York made an appeal to the Department of Justice asking the agency to investigate the NYPD’s stop-and-search practice, intervene on lawsuits challenging it and aid them in legislation to counter it altogether.

Donna Lieberman, the NYCLU’s executive director, expressed hope that the app would empower citizens. “At a time when the Bloomberg administration vigorously defends the status quo,” she said in a statement, “our app will allow people to go beyond the data to document how each unjustified stop further corrodes trust between communities and law enforcement.”

Julia Chance is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist and the author of Sisterfriends: Portraits of Sisterly Love. Follow her on Twitter.