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That's the batting average of the mayor of New York City and his police commissioner in patrolling New York City the week George Steinbrenner died. The Yankees owner would have fired them both a thousand times over for weak hitting.


New Yorkers, to their credit, tried to fire their mayor by twice voting to limit his terms. He overrode this, however, with the rubber-stamp consent of the city council and continues to reign as Mike ''Papa Doc'' Bloomberg, mayor, perhaps, for life.

As for the NYPD's batting average, last week the New York Times reported the city's shameful performance in an eight-block stretch of Brooklyn over a four-year period. The controversial ''Stop, Question, Frisk'' policy targets the predominantly black Brownsville area ''at a rate unmatched anywhere else in the city.''

The citywide program, according to the Times, is ''most urgently meant to get guns off the streets.'' Yet ''the arrest rate is less than 1 percent โ€ฆ in the more than 50,000 stops since 2006, the police recovered 25 guns.'' The Times' estimate of ''less than 1 percent'' understates the statistical rate of gun detection by a factor of more than a thousand.


Recovering a single gun in Brownsville requires the NYPD to stop, question and frisk an astounding 2,080 persons randomly โ€” often harassing such citizens and sometimes shooting them dead in Brooklyn and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the gun discovery rate could likely be matched were cops to randomly frisk rabbis and Catholic priests, to say nothing of college deans or Wall Street brokers.

So why, in a supposedly open society promising all residents civil liberties, are Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly violating the rights of innocent citizens to move freely about?

Clearly, the police-state sweeps subjecting Brownsville โ€” and other so-called high-crime-rate neighborhoods with non-white populations โ€” do little to serve the official purpose of keeping guns off the streets. The buy-back-gun program, by comparison, brought in some 600 weapons in Brooklyn just last Saturday.


Thus, some 95 percent of those the NYPD stopped and frisked could not be hauled off to jail no matter how mightily the apprehending officer struggled to find weapons, drugs, contrabands, outstanding warrants or even overdue child-support payments. Still, Mayor Bloomberg and his police commissioner allow no such innocence to go unpunished.

An even more pernicious city practice kept electronic NYPD records of the names of all innocent residents stopped and let go. The aggressive Bloomberg-Kelly axis strongly urged outgoing Gov. David Paterson to veto a bill outlawing such record-keeping, without providing a scintilla of evidence that such files, which clearly violate citizens' rights, helped to reduce crime.

Mayor Bloomberg argues that if one life is saved, despite, apparently, the massive infringement of civil liberties guaranteed under the Constitution, then the massive police sweeps are justified. (This is a point Josef Stalin might have made.) In fact, the mayor and police commissioner have presented no evidence that the stop-and-frisk policy has saved a single life despite the cost.


After reviewing city data supporting maintenance of the police files as essential to crime fighting, Gov. Paterson said the evidence ''overwhelmingly'' proved the opposite. Even the Times news story stated that the supporting cases ''provide strong evidence that the stop-and-frisk data played a less than essential role โ€” and sometimes hardly any role at all.''

To his great credit, Gov. Paterson signed the bill last week that ended the police-state record-keeping of massive files on innocent, law-abiding citizens. The chief offense of these overwhelmingly black and Hispanic residents appear to have been that they wandered under the suspicious gaze of jittery, overzealous cops who would have difficulty distinguishing between Creflo A. Dollar and 50 Cent in his street-running days.

Meanwhile, the NYPD is free to go not so merrily about misidentifying massive numbers of innocent targets to be stopped, questioned and frisked; and if history serves, their names will be placed in some secret police data bank, despite the newly signed state law.


Just watch.

Les Payne is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a frequent contributor to The Root.