New York Attorney General's Report Confirms Bias Policing Practices

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
December 6, 1999 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – New York City police officers disproportionately target blacks and Hispanics for street searches, according to a new report by the state attorney general’s office. According to a December 1 New York Times article, the report confirms many blacks’ and Hispanics’ claims that the police stop and search them far more often than they do whites. The report found that even in precincts that are 90% white, more than half of those stopped and frisked were people of color. Blacks were stopped 23% more often, and Hispanics were stopped 36% more often, than whites.

Street searches are a key tactic in New York’s crime prevention efforts, and racial bias in police practices has been a topic of growing concern in New York. The killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black man whom the police shot 41 times, focused the public’s attention on police abuse of blacks and sparked protests over officers’ treatment of black and Hispanic New Yorkers. The attorney general’s report, which was released on November 31, was spurred by the Amadou killing.

The ACLU has repeatedly criticized the police for their racially biased practices in New York and across the nation, and has filed numerous lawsuits aimed at stopping such bias. A recent ACLU ad in The New York Times decried the use of unnecessary force against blacks, with a focus on the Diallo killing.

New York’s Police Commissioner Howard Safir attacked the new report, claiming that its methodology is flawed and that it was politically motivated. Safir has consistently denied racial prejudice by the police department and has defended the behavior of officers in the Diallo incident.

The report can be read online at

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