3:35 pm Jul. 5, 2012
Mayor Michael Bloomberg this afternoon denounced two recent court rulings on stop-and-frisk, saying, "It's not an academic thing. This is your life."
The mayor made his remarks at the Queens Botanical Garden, where he was launching the city's summer jobs programs.
Five hours earlier, he appeared with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at Bellevue Hospital to tell reporters about Brian Groves, a 30-year-old cop who was shot Thursday morning while pursuing a man with a gun in the stairwell of a housing project on Essex Street in the Lower East Side.
The mayor used the Groves shooting to press his case for stop-and-frisk, the controversial police tactic whose implementation has been challenged by two appeals courts in a week. In both cases, judges overturned the convictions of 14-year-old boys whom cops found, during stop-and-frisk searches, to be carrying concealed weapons. In both instances, the courts found that the cops did not have cause for such a search. A few months after one incident, one of the boys obtained another gun.
"Six months later, that kid got another gun, shot somebody twice and walked over and was about to execute the guy lying on the ground, when somebody screamed and he ran away," said the mayor today. "We've just got to stop this. This cannot continue. It's not an academic thing. This is your life."
The courts' actions come on the heels of significant opposition to the police tactic among civil liberties advocates, minority communities, and candidates to replace Bloomberg in 2013.
Under Bloomberg's administration, stop-and-frisks have soared, without a commensurate decrease in shootings.
At the same time, the city is on track to have fewer than 500 murders this year, according to the mayor, an historically low rate that he attributes to stop and frisk.
"We are not going to be deterred by those who seek to reverse the progress that we have made," he said on Thursday.
"And I think if you ask people that live in NYCHA housing, they will virtually all tell you there is still too much crime and would like to see our efforts doubled, not cut in half," he continued.
Asked if he thought the court decisions were having an impact on the police department, Bloomberg said that police officers must be wondering what, exactly, they're supposed to be doing.
"I follow the book exactly, and then the courts say that what you did was not legal," said the mayor. "You know, our cops aren't constitutional scholars. Their expertise is in dealing with people and running risks. And thank god we have the world's best police department. That's what's keeping us safe."
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