By Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Once again, the NYPD stop-and-frisk data speaks for itself. The numbers for the first quarter of 2012 show yet another record rate of stops—over 203,500 between January and March, an average of 2,200 per day. At the current rate, the NYPD is on track to stop over 730,000 New Yorkers this year—more than 40,000 stops over the record-setting annual stops in 2011. Moreover, the racial disparities and low rates of arrests and summonses – which have become a shameful hallmark of the stop-and-frisk data – continue: 87 percent of those stopped were Black or Latino, yet only 10 percent were arrested or received summonses.
Stop-and-frisk policies violate the rights of hundreds or thousands of New Yorkers every year while they do not make New Yorkers safer. There is no evidence showing that stop-and-frisk reduces crime in New York City. On the contrary, New Yorkers feel less safe and often have their lives upended by unlawful stops, and communities feel that they are under siege. It is astonishing that in the face of widespread public outcry, class action lawsuits, and strong evidence that stop-and-frisk is a failed and discriminatory policing practice, the NYPD has ratcheted up the program rather than remedying it.
These numbers reinforce the merits of CCR’s litigation, Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al., and underscore the need for our lawsuit to be certified as a class action. Floyd challenges the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy as a violation of fundamental rights and protections under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and as a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches.
The racial disparities revealed in the latest set of numbers, and the low correlation between stops and criminal activity, continue a pattern borne out by nine years of data. Analysis has consistently shown that, even after adjustments are made for the allocation of police resources, crime rates, and other social conditions, race is a primary factor determining NYPD stops. Blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely to be stopped than whites, and most stops occur in Black and Latino neighborhoods. And stop-and-frisk data has repeatedly shown that NYPD officers use physical force at a significantly higher rate during stops of Blacks and Latinos. While the NYPD attempts to justify stop-and-frisk as key to confiscating illegal weapons, the weapons yield from stop-and-frisk is abysmally low. Only 1.3 % of the stops resulted in recovery of a weapon, which is no better than the recovery rates for stops made at random at police checkpoints.
The personal impact of stop-and-frisk is hard to overestimate. For many children, being stopped by the police on their way home from school has become a normal afterschool activity. As described by one person who has been stopped-and-frisked four times, for young people in many neighborhoods, getting stopped and frisked has become a rite of passage, something young Black and Brown youth constantly expect will happen to them. The data demonstrates that the egregious, racially-discriminatory practice of stop-and-frisk is a daily reality for many New Yorkers. Further, this kind of heavy-handed policing promotes mistrust and fear of police officers in communities of color—rather than serving those communities, police end up occupying them.
The Center for Constitutional Rights will receive by court order more comprehensive data than the summary numbers released today and will provide those results as soon as they are available.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.