More evidence that direct action works: Street stops in New York fall as movement against tactic grows
August 04, 2012
The number of times police officers stopped, questioned and frisked people on the streets of New York City has dropped significantly, by more than 34 percent, in recent months, and a key contributing factor appears to be that police commanders have grown wary of pushing for such stops at daily roll calls, police supervisors said.
At the same time, 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 also contributed to the drop, some say, with officers simply choosing not to question people they might have stopped before.
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 New York Police Department’s use of the tactic, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mr. Kelly have put in place new measures aimed at ensuring lawful stops.
“Cops are nervous, and supervisors are nervous” about the stop-and-frisk practice, said a police supervisor, explaining the drop. The supervisor, like other officers interviewed, spoke on the condition that he not be named for fear of angering his bosses.
Another said that officers who were not pursuing as many stops were thinking to themselves, “I don’t want to be on the receiving end of any kind of allegation.”
The Police Department conducted 203,500 stops in January, February and March this year, according to the department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne — a record number. But in the second quarter — April, May and June — the police stopped 133,934 people, he said. During this period, the issue received considerable attention in the news media. The second-quarter stops were about 25 percent lower compared with the number of street stops in the second quarter of 2011, police officials said.