The controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy of the New York Police Department has spent a great deal time in the news lately as former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg—who is currently running for president—has been repeatedly called to task for the policy he supported up until recently.
Bloomberg did an about-face on the policy back in November, as the New York Times then noted:
Ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York on Sunday reversed his longstanding support of the aggressive “stop-and-frisk” policing strategy that he pursued for a decade and that led to the disproportionate stopping of black and Latino people across the city.
“I was wrong,” Mr. Bloomberg declared. “And I am sorry.”
The speech, Mr. Bloomberg’s first since he re-emerged as a possible presidential candidate, was a remarkable concession by a 77-year-old billionaire not known for self-doubt: that a pillar of his 12-year mayoralty was a mistake that he now regrets. It was also, in some ways, a last word on an era of aggressive policing in New York City that began a generation ago under former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani — though the fallout on neighborhoods is still felt to this day.
The emphasis in the last part of that quote is my own. Regardless of how Bloomberg is now trying to clean up his image and divorce himself from stop-and-frisk, the controversial policy is still in place within the NYPD, and even worse, the number of stop-and-frisks jumped up by 22 percent in 2019, according to a report released by the department Friday.
There were 13,459 stop-and-frisks reported in 2019, and that is 2,451 more than the 11,008 reported in 2018—or a jump of 22 percent.
It is important to note that these are the number of incidents “reported” and may not be an actual representation of how many times stop-and-frisk has actually happened, because as a means of trying to downplay the rise in numbers, the New York Daily News reports the NYPD “said the 2019 increase is ‘unlikely to be a true increase in stops, but rather more accurate and complete reporting’—inferring that the lower stop numbers in previous years may be inaccurate.”
In a statement, the NYPD said: “The Department has enhanced its auditing and compliance metrics as well as developed training to address stops and proper reporting. The result is a better understanding of a very complex area of law, correction of common misunderstandings and better reporting.”
Isn’t that reassuring?
OK, maybe not.
Chris Dunn, legal director for the NYCLU, told the Daily News that underreporting of the number of stop-and-frisks by the NYPD has been an ongoing fear.
“While increased stops would be worrisome, our bigger concern is that large numbers of stops simply are not being reported by officers,” Dunn told the outlet. “In truth, tens of thousands more New Yorkers may be the victims of stop-and-frisk than these figures suggest.”
Still, the numbers are much lower than the 694,482 stop-and-frisks that were conducted in 2011, when use of the practice was at its peak, and still lower than the 191,851 stops that happened in 2013—the same year federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional, violated the Fourth Amendment rights of New Yorkers, and was racially discriminatory—a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourth Amendment.
That the practice still continues is disheartening. That it is negatively impacting black and brown populations is a fact.
That it needs to stop is gospel.