NY Post’s Epic Fail on Stop and Frisk

The paper's attempt to link a rise in gun violence to the ban on the tactic is horribly flawed.

NYPD officers stop three individuals in January (Joe Marino/Getty Images)

A more viable statistic that could be used in the stop-and-frisk debate (and would still be logical fallacy, but interesting nonetheless because it would look at the situation over the long term, versus 30 days after the decision about stop and frisk, a time period so brief that it cannot be used to establish neither a trend nor, in this instance, causality) would be this: The total number of gun-possessing individuals detained by stop and frisk during the 12 months prior to the repeal of stop and frisk, versus the number of of gun-possessing individuals detained because stop and frisk the 12 months following the repeal of stop and frisk.

It would be an interesting analysis, but again, not valid in establishing causality between the repeal of stop and frisk and the increase or decrease of gun violence.

One very interesting piece of data, which comes from the office of New York City’s public advocate (pdf) and demonstrates the inefficacy of stop and frisk for extracting guns from the streets, was cited by the New York Civil Liberties Union. Of the 532,911 stop and frisks in 2012, only 729 guns were found. Additional food for thought to address the racial disparities in the administration of stop and frisk: Of those 532,911 stops, the NYPD found a weapon in one out of every 49 stops of whites, one out of every 71 stops of Latinos and one out of every 93 stops of African Americans.

Finally, the piece of data that refutes the hypothesis of gun violence being on the rise because of the repeal of stop and frisk was reported by the Huffington Post in May of this year: “The total number of shootings so far this year is down 22.4 percent, something officials attribute to an anti-gang offensive.”

The New York Post continues the article by railing against the judge who repealed stop and frisk, using more appeals to emotions (perps aren’t scared anymore, and police are more fearful of lawsuits than of gun-toting perps so they are not attempting stop and frisk anymore), which leads me to my conclusions about this piece by a couple of “journalists” using very bad logic in the stop-and-frisk debate. The article, with its catchy and sensational headline, does nothing to elevate or ratify stop-and-frisk proponents’ side of the argument and does more of a disservice to the important debate about the societal impacts of stop and frisk. In the final analysis of the New York Post’s piece and its flawed assertions, all I could do was sigh and say, “So what?”

Janks Morton is a groundbreaking, award-winning filmmaker, author, activist and researcher. You can follow him at Twitter and Facebook or check out his website, www.whatblackmenthink.com.

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