NEW YORK, August 5, CMC – A Grenadian American legislator here remains skeptical even as official reports reveal that the number of times police officers stopped, questioned and frisked Caribbean and other minorities on the streets has dropped significantly.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has reported that stop-and-frisks have decreased by more than 34 percent in recent months.
New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was wrongfully arrested last Labor Day, during the West Indian Day Carnival Parade, and a vociferous critic of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) stop-and-frisk tactics, said while fewer stop, question and frisks is a “step in the right direction, it is one statistic amongst a collection of data and anecdotal evidence we must consider to determine if we are meeting our larger goal.
“We must be measured in how we evaluate the first to second quarter reduction in stop, question and frisks,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on Sunday.
“The continued goal for New Yorkers has been to raise NYPD accountability and establish safer streets and better policing for all,” he added.
“This includes examining the number of affected New Yorkers who were neither arrested nor issued a summons, which over the last decade has been astronomical and indicative of the policy’s inefficacy towards reducing violent crime,” Williams continued.
The NYPD said a key contributing factor to the decline in stop-and frisks appears to be that police commanders have grown wary of pushing for such stops at daily roll calls.
Some police supervisors also say a general feeling of unease about the tactic by officers on the street — who have seen widespread criticism of so-called stop-and-frisks in the news media and by the courts — has contributed to the drop, with officers simply choosing not to question people they might have stopped before.
Reports indicate that the decline suggests that officers are unsure whether the political support remains for street stops, long a focal point of Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly’s crime-fighting strategy.
In recent months, three court rulings have raised questions about the NYPD’s use of the tactic, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Kelly say they have put in place new measures aimed at ensuring lawful stops.
Paul J. Browne, the NYPD’s chief spokesman, said the NYPD conducted 203,500 stops in January, February and March this year — a record number.
But in the second quarter — April, May and June — the police stopped 133,934 people, he said.
During this period, Browne said the issue received considerable attention in the news media.
He said the second-quarter stops were about 25 percent lower compared with the number of street stops in the second quarter of 2011.
Generally, about half of the street stops resulted in the police’s frisking the person, Browne said.
According to reports, Blacks and Hispanics generally represent more than 85 percent of those stops.
Williams said since the Bloomberg Administration has already conceded publicly that stop, question and frisks have no bearing on the number of gun shootings, “we must not allow critics to falsify causation from mere correlation, as any student of statistics will tell you not to do.
“Our approach going forward must be to push ahead with legislative reforms that will not only address historical misuse and abuse of the stop, question and frisk tactic, including against immigrants who face punitive deportation policies, but also to improve police-community relations – such that the NYPD is best equipped to root out violent crime in our city,” he added.