Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Even NYPD Professionals Are Questioning The Scope of Stop and Frisk

The release of data showing just how frequently the NYPD is using Stop and Frisk as a police tactic to reduce crime is staggering with its implications and whether the program is no longer achieving its objectives. It's got top level police officials questioning whether the program has gone off the rails - for performance objectives sake - and ignoring the implications for civil rights and actual crime fighting.
Last Friday, the NYPD revealed they conducted 204,000 "Stop-and-Frisks" in just the first three months of the year, pushing the boundary even further.

How has a police department that was conducting 500,000 stop and frisks a year — or 1,400-a-day — compelled the same number of troops to conduct 200,000 more — or 500 additional stops every day?

And why?

Is it all about fighting crime? Is it about Kelly and Bloomberg’s legacy?
One official offered insight.

He said the department a year or so ago quietly issued "performance standards" that only "put more pressure downward on cops, asking them, 'What did you do this week?'

"And the feeling was, ‘If they were going to break my balls, then I will just do what I know they want and end my problem. Period.'"
This well intentioned program started off well - and it was getting criminals off the street when it was focused on high crime areas, but as the program expanded, it started having unintended consequences. Instead of putting the community and police on the same page as far as fighting criminal elements in the communities, it creates distrust and apprehension.

If police commanders in precincts are encouraged to show results - one way they can do so is by putting more of their beat cops on stop and frisk details, and they can show that they're in the field by reporting on the number of stop and frisks on a daily basis. It's a numbers driven policy that doesn't actually reduce crime and may be taking resources away from those tactics that have been shown to work best.

It's time to put stop and frisk back into its context - to use it in high crime areas. This is one time where the statistics do not back up stop and frisk.

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