Racial Disparities Remain, Despite Significant Decline in Stops

March 14, 2019

NEW YORK - Today, The New York Civil Liberties Union released Stop-and-Frisk in the de Blasio Era, a report analyzing NYPD stop-and-frisk data during the first four years of the de Blasio administration.

Since Mayor de Blasio came into office in January 2014, the number of reported NYPD stops has drastically declined in New York City. Yet, despite a record-low number of reported stops in recent years, there has been virtually no progress made on reducing racial disparities. Black and Latino men and boys continue to be the overwhelming targets of stop-and-frisk activity.

  • Young black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 account for only five percent of the city’s population, compared with 38 percent of reported stops. Young black and Latino males were innocent 80 percent of the time.
     
  • Though frisks are only supposed to be conducted when an officer reasonably suspects the person has a weapon that poses threat to the officer’s safety, 66 percent of reported stops led to frisks, of which over 93 percent resulted in no weapon being found.
     
  • Black and Latino people were more likely to be frisked than whites and, among those frisked, were less likely to be found with a weapon.
     
  • Between 2014 and 2017, the NYPD used force on over 21,000 black and Latino people and over 2,200 white people. Even among those stopped, black and Latino people were more likely to have force used against them than white people.
     
  • Black and Latino people were disproportionately stopped regardless of the demographic make-up of the neighborhood. For example, in the 17th precinct, which encompasses Kips Bay and Murray Hill, black and Latino people make up just 8 percent of the population but 75 percent of the people stopped by police.

“The decline in the sheer number of stops is important progress, but it does not change the fact that black and Latino New Yorkers are still disproportionately targeted by stop-and-frisk policing,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “New York City is safer than ever, but we have made no meaningful progress in reducing the racial disparities in who is stopped by police on the street. No amount of fear mongering from President Trump, whose lack of regard for fact-based policy extends to law enforcement, can prompt New York to return to the harmful, racially divisive ineffective, and out of control stop-and-frisk that began with Giuliani and continued until the current administration.” 

“While we welcome the dramatic decline in reported stops, we remain concerned that the number of actual stops is far larger because officers are failing to document many stops,” said Christopher Dunn, Legal Director at the NYCLU and co-author of the report. “In addition, our report shows that racial disparities continue to be a stubborn problem, that most stops are of innocent people, and that the police routinely and improperly are frisking New Yorkers.”

The New York City Police Department’s aggressive stop-and-frisk program exploded into a national controversy during the mayoral administration of Michael Bloomberg. Stop-and-frisk peaked in 2011 when NYPD officers made nearly 700,000 stops. During the rise of stop-and-frisk, the New York Civil Liberties Union used public records requests to obtain and regularly report to the public information about NYPD stops. The NYCLU successfully sued to get access to the NYPD's database of stops and released a report in May 2012 that helped propel the issue of discriminatory stop-and-frisk policing to the forefront of the 2013 mayoral race. By the time then-public advocate Bill de Blasio was elected in November 2013 on a platform that included stop-and-frisk reform, public pressure and litigation had forced Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Ray Kelly to scale back stop-and-frisk activity. Three federal cases — including one led by the NYCLU, Ligon v. City of New York — had resulted in court orders forcing sweeping reform of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program.

You can view the report and its appendices here: https://www.nyclu.org/en/publications/stop-and-frisk-de-blasio-era-2019
 

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