3:26 pm Feb. 26, 20122
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer today called for an end to the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactic as currently practiced, saying it was an ineffective tactic that unfairly targets black and Latino men to the point that their families are "more worried about the interaction with the police" than with local drug dealers.
Today's statement by Stringer is a progression from his previous position on stop-and-frisk, which called for the police department's application of stop-and-frisk to be investigated and modified but not necessarily ended. The declaration also puts daylight between Stringer and another prospective candidate in the 2013 mayor's race, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who also called for reforming the NYPD stop-and-frisk tactic but said last earlier this month the tactic was "part of the NYPD's policing strategy that led" to historic drops in violent crime here.
"Now think about it," Stringer said at a press conference today. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, no gun was found. Ninety-four percent of the time no arrest was made. And eighty-five percent of the time, Latino or African-American New Yorkers were stopped. What's happening in this city is that grandparents and parents of African-American young men actually worry when they send their kid out to get a quart of milk. They're not worried about the drug dealer, they're more worried about the interaction with the police."
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has defended the stop-and-frisk policy by pointing to the city's historic-low crime rates, saying it "saves lives" and that in terms of the groups that are targeted by it, it is applied in proportion to the descriptions of criminal suspects supplied to the police by victims. Experts who studied this issue, including one cited by Kelly, aren't sure about the correlation between the overall numbers of stop-and-frisks and the overall rates of violent crime, or about what would happen to crime rates if the police applied stop-and-frisk more selectively.
"We question whether this policy works, this police initiative works, and we question why we're just targeting certain segment of our city," Stringer said. "All of us believe that there is a constitutional way to do stop and frisk. None of us are suggesting that the police never interact with the community. That's ridiculous. There's constitutional ways to do it, and there has to be a standard. And one of the great parts of our resolution is for the urging of the city police department to come up with a way to make this work and not keep it in its present form."
I asked Stringer if those same criticisms extended to the NYPD tactic of monitoring the locations of Muslim houses of worship and businesses in New York City and other counties and states. Stringer, like the other Democratic mayoral candidates called for more closely monitoring the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims, but neither he nor any of the other likely candidates has said it should be stopped.
"Look," Stringer said. "Every time people of different backgrounds feel put-upon, whether their civil rights may be violated, it's appropriate to have that discussion."
Joining Stringer at 71st Street and Broadway for today's announcement were a number of elected officials and representatives from each of the community boards in the borough that passed resolutions calling for an end to stop-and-frisk. The board resolutions also call for a federal investigation into the NYPD to see "whether these stops are in fact constitutional."
The Upper West Side is an area Stringer represented for more than a decade as a member of the Assembly, and is also part of a political base he shares with Quinn, who has represented Chelsea since joining the Council in 1999.
Three of the four candidates looking to run for Manhattan borough president were also at the event: Council members Gale Brewer of the West Side and Robert Jackson of Harlem and Community Board 1 Chairwoman Julie Menin of Tribecca. City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin of the East Side, who is also considering entering the race, was not there.
This article was updated from the original to make clearer that Stringer was calling for an end to the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy in its current form, not for an absolute ban on stop-and-frisk.