Stop-and-frisk statistics shock New Yorkers

The NYPD has recently released statistics on how the controversial “stop-and-frisk” tactic was used by police officers in 2011. On Monday the 4th of February, the police commissioner published this report. Revelations included:

Nearly 90% of those who were stop-and-frisked in 2011 were either black or Hispanic, even though these two groups make up 53% of the city’s population

In Downtown New York, African Americans account for 3% of the population but 57% of the stop-and-frisks

Almost 686,000 stops were conducted in 2011, that's 8.6% of the city's residents (10 years ago the figure was 98,000)

One Brooklyn neighbourhood, Crown Heights, is divided by stop-and-frisk. The north side has similar crime rates to the south side, yet you are twice as likely to be stop-and-frisked on the north side.

In the 1990s crime was a particularly serious problem in New York, and stop-and-frisk (also known as stop-and search or “reasonable suspicion stops”) was promoted as a way of making the streets safe to walk again. But now many New Yorkers are protesting that the way the police are using their powers is making their lives harder, not easier. Ethnic minorities in particular are complaining of being harassed on a daily basis, and accusations that the police are guilty of racial profiling are common.

Despite being very vocal on the issue, critics of stop-and-frisk have failed to generate much support in City Hall. However, because this new report makes the iniquities of the tactic so clear, the activists will go on the offensive and maybe they’ll convince the city that reform is essential.