‘Post’ says officials want to abolish stop-and-frisk; officials in question say they don’t

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The New York Post said in an editorial this morning that "a gaggle of the usual suspects traveled to Washington yesterday … Like virtually all of stop-and-frisk’s critics, these opponents aren’t interested in tweaking the program to get rid of possible inequities, but instead want to end it entirely."

Every elected official I spoke with who attended the press conference said that that is false.

Emphasis is mine in all the following quotes.

Assemblyman Nick Perry told me, "I recognize and I'm sure my colleagues do too, there are useful purposes for the stop-and-frisk initiative. We are not pushing to eliminate it. The concerns that we have raised are being ignored by the NYPD and Mayor and it's the excessive and illegal use of the practice that is appalling. But we know and certainly appreciate that as a police tactic it is probably necessary to do that but it should be done respective of all of the people approach.

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"I want to make that clear and I think my colleagues go through great lengths to make it quite clear," Perry added. "We are not saying the police should never stop and frisk anyone. It's quite clear the practice is excessive and all it's doing is creating a tense situation between the police and the community and have a negative impact on crime fighting."

State Senator Eric Adams told the Brooklyn Ink, "Stop-and-frisk is a good tool, but use the tool correctly. Don’t abuse the tool. Because if you stop little Johnny four times, now he’s anti-police. Now he hates the police."

Assemblyman Karim Camara, who spoke passionately about raising his children and frequently hearing gunshots, emailed me to say, "I am not calling for the NYPD to abolish the policy of stopping, questioning and/or frisking an individual when there is a "reasonable suspicion. My perspective is that the NYPD Stop and Frisk policy needs seriously reform. I am aware of the reforms that Commissioner Kelly outlined to Speaker Quinn but do not feel they far enough. The current policies are a violation of the Fourth amendments rights of thousands of individuals. Of course an officer has the right to stop individuals when there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are about to commit a crime, just committed a crime or fit the description of someone who is suspected of having committed a crime. Yet what many of the critics including myself believe is that the officers are not exercising "reasonable suspicion" but stopping individuals based on racial and cultural stereotypes. There is ample anecdotal evidence of this and evidence from recent reports. Over 694,000 people were stopped and out of that number only 12% were arrested and/or charged with a crime."

Councilman Brad Lander emailed me and said, "Stop-and-frisk is an important policing tool, that must be available to NYPD officers. But it is currently being badly abused, as witnessed by the rampant growth in recent years, by the wildly disproportionate focus on people-of-color (even in a neighborhood like Park Slope, where people-of-color are 25% of the population, but 79% of the stops), by the very small percentage of stops which result in an arrest or summons, and by the tiny number that discover a weapon. Stop-and-frisk must be done according to the Constitution and the law, which requires reasonable suspicion. As the numbers, and Judge Scheindlin's decision show, the NYPD is not following the law. It is important for people to remember that in the United States, you have the right to be left alone if there is not reasonable suspicion that you are engaged in criminal activity. When that right is eroded, we all suffer."

Councilwoman Debbie Rose is also calling for the program to be amended. Her spokesperson emailed and said the delegation never said it wanted to end it. They consistently said they want to reform the practice so that it is effective."

Here are the first words from Councilman Jumaane Williams column on the Huffington Post: "Stop, question and frisk is an acceptable policing tool, as the Supreme Court held in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). That is not the question at hand, despite how many have attempted to frame the debate in that way. Indeed, the question is whether the NYPD's current usage of stop, question and frisk, which disparately targets communities of more color, the LGBT community, the homeless and other historically disenfranchised New Yorkers, is effective, legal and/or necessary. My view is that it meets none of these standards and therefore should face reform."

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito emailed me to say, "No, reforming it is my position which can be done but it entails a genuine commitment to reform the organizational culture of the NYPD which is a larger challenge. But when there is commitment it can happen. "

When I emailed him for a response, Post editorial page editor Robert McManus said he'd let the editorial speak for itself.