Calls for police departments to be defunded, dismantled and outright abolished have grown nationwide over the last month. New York has responded to these calls by closing a 600-person plainclothes unit. Which, uh, is something I guess?
The anti-crime unit was responsible for finding and getting guns off the street, often employing the questionable stop-and-frisk tactic to do so, according to NBC News. “I would consider this in the realm of closing the last chapters of stop, question and frisk,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters. Shea believes the move will be “a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city.”
Stop-and-frisk is a tactic that has garnered much deserved controversy. Its usage was woefully ineffective and rarely resulted in any guns or illegal materials being found. In addition to not working, it was just straight up racist. A federal ruling in 2013 rendered the tactic unconstitutional as 80 percent of stops were black and Latinx people.
Despite this history, Shea said that the move wasn’t a critique of the work of officers who he said did an “exceptional” job. Instead he points to changes in policing from the last decade. “We can do it with brains. We can do it with guile. We can move away from brute force,” Shea said.
From NBC News:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that every community in the state would have to implement “major” reform aimed at redesigning public safety.
“How do we change the police?” he said. “How do we take this moment and institutionalize it to have progress?”
Shea called the discussions about reform “thoughtful” but added that the move to disband the anti-crime unit could backfire.
“This is not without risk,” he said. “The risk will fall squarely on my shoulders.”
While I’m sure the NYPD would love a pat on the back for finally “ending” stop-and-frisk, this all rings a bit hollow. This is a program that was proven not to work seven years ago. You don’t get points for finally not doing the thing that you shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.