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Monday, November 1, 2010

Discuss: 'Stop and Frisk'

Over on the BxNN Reader's Forum, we've started a discussion about the NYPD's "stop, question, frisk" policies, which came in for renewed criticism last week following the release of a damning new report.

Conducted by a Columbia Law professor at the request of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the report concluded that many of the stops are unconstitutional and that race is often a deciding factor in who gets stopped and who doesn't.

CCR published a summary of the report's findings on its website. Among the key points were:

Nearly 150,000 stops over the last six years are unconstitutional and lack any legal justification. Another 544,252 stops may be unconstitutional but were not documented sufficiently to determine this. All together, 30 percent of all stops are either illegal or of questionable legality.

Most stops occur in Black and Latino neighborhoods, and even after adjustments for other factors including crime rates, social conditions and allocation of police resources in those neighborhoods, race is the main factor determining NYPD stops.

Black and Latino residents are more likely to be stopped than Whites even in areas with low crime rates where populations are mixed or mostly White.
On the back of this report (which you can read in full here), Times' columnist Bob Herbert wrote an op-ed in last Saturday's paper under the headline "The Shame of New York."  He said: "It doesn’t matter if innocent black or Hispanic kids are in a high-crime area or low, a minority area or white, they stand a good chance of being harassed by New York City cops."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the Times recently that he hadn't yet read the report, but added: “I think you have to understand this was an advocacy paper.”  (CCR has filed a class action lawsuit against the NYPD, challenging the legality of stop-and-frisk.)

In the past Kelly has strongly defended stop-and-frisk. He claims it's an important crime-fighting tool, and denies the existance of racial profiling. 

So what do you think? To join the conversation click here and then look for our "Crime & Public Safety" page. To comment you'll need to register if you haven't already done so.  All that's needed is an email address.   

Last week, we asked readers about biking in the Bronx, including ways to make it safer and more enjoyable.  You can read what people had to say - and add your own thoughts - by clicking here and going to "Health, Sport, & Fitness."  Also, please feel free to start any topic(s) of your own.


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