Bloomberg: With stop-and-frisk, as with a D.U.I. checkpoint, it’s not who you catch

A sobriety checkpoint in Connecticut. (Flickr via versageek)
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According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, stop-and-frisk works a little like a D.U.I. checkpoint.

This morning during the mayor's regular appearance on the John Gambling Show, Gambling asked the mayor, referring to the number of stop-and-frisks performed by the NYPD, "Is there any truth do you think that if you raise the number even higher, the crime would be lower?"

The mayor responded that stop-and-frisk is "not a physical science where you can try an experiment in one place and compare it to someplace else."

"What we do know is that the number of guns that we've been finding has continued to go down, which says the program at this scale is doing a great job," Bloomberg said.

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Some civil-rights advocates argue that the reduced number of gun seizures speaks less to the program's succcess that to the overapplication of a policing tactic that threatens to alienate communities from the police officers tasked with their protection. An NYCLU report released on Wednesday reported that incidents of stop-and-frisk have grown from about 100,000 during Bloomberg's first year in office to nearly 700,000 in 2011. The number of guns collected has not increased proportionally, according to the report. In 2003, one in every 266 stops yielded a gun. In 2011, only one in every 3,000 stops. 

This week, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio seized on the issue, calling for a  reduction in the use of stop and frisk, as did Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer before him. Comptroller John Liu called for its abolition entirely. All three are running for mayor in 2013.

"The whole idea here, John, is not to catch people with guns, it's to prevent people from carrying guns," said Bloomberg this morning. "It's like a stop we have for driving while intoxicated. It would be great if everybody said, 'Oh my goodness, I might get stopped so I'm not gonna drink and drive.' That's great. That's what we want. That would be wonderful. And the fact that we're getting fewer guns says  the program is working. And the program will really have succeeded when we don't get any guns."