Data released by New York City’s public advocate, Bill de Blasio, reveals that the New York City police department is still applying the stop and frisk policy in a racially discriminatory manner. Although the New York City Police Department promised significant reforms in May 2012 to address the perception that the “stop and frisk” policy was unfairly targeting blacks and Hispanics, the new report reveals that little has changed within the NYPD and that the policy is still being practiced in a discriminatory manner.
Nearly 90 percent of persons stopped and searched were innocent of any crime
Despite the fact that Mayor Bloomberg and police chief Ray Kelly continue to defend New York City’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy, nearly 90 percent of the people stopped and frisked in 2012 were not guilty of any crime. The individuals were subjected to intrusive searches often on the basis of no evidence. This policy was disproportionately used to target black and Latino males, but the searches seldom uncovered any criminal activity.
Eighty-four percent of individuals stopped were black or Hispanic
Although African-Americans and Latinos only make up a little over half of New York City’s population, they were nearly 85 percent of the people stopped by police under the “stop and frisk” policy. The five most heavily policed precincts in the city were all precincts that are over 90 percent black and Hispanic. Furthermore, even in predominately white precincts, blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately searched. For example, in the mostly white Murray Hill-Kipps Bay precinct which is under 8 percent black and Latino, over 64 percent of the people stopped by police were black or Latino. In the Chelsea district in Manhattan which is under a quarter black and Hispanic, over three quarters of the people stopped and searched by police were black or Hispanic.
Whites searched by police were twice as likely to be found with a weapon than blacks who were searched by police
Although the police disproportionately target minorities, they are more likely to find illegal weapons or drugs in the possession of whites that they search than they are to find them on blacks or Latinos that they search. While even a majority of whites who were searched were innocent, they were twice as likely to be found in possession of an unlawful weapon than African-Americans who were searched. Consequently, even though blacks were most frequently targeted by the police, it was white suspects who were most often found in possession of illegal firearms.
Whites were more likely to be found in possession of contraband than blacks or Hispanics
Blacks and Hispanics were also less likely to be found in possession of drugs or contraband than their white counterparts. While 1 in 43 whites stopped was found with contraband, the corresponding ratio for Hispanics was 1 in 57 and for blacks it was 1 in 61. So while the NYPD continues to rationalize the extra scrutiny applied to blacks and Hispanics, their own data reveals that white suspects were more likely to be in possession of illegal guns or drugs than their minority counterparts.
Profiling is a failed policy that unfairly discriminates against racial and ethnic minorities
The newly released data confirms the fears of civil libertarians that the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policy unfairly targets racial minorities. Blacks are most likely to be stopped by police and whites are least likely to be stopped, but police are most likely to find weapons and drugs on white suspects and least likely to find them on black suspects. Although the NYPD continues to defend the policy and insist that reforms have been implemented, their own data reveals otherwise. Racial profiling and “stop and frisk” are failed policies that violate the rights of people of color in New York City. The practice is ineffective, inexcusable and in need of termination.