Number of stop-and-frisk searches in NYC down by 80 percent

Number of stop-and-frisk searches in NYC down by 80 percent
The New York City Police Department’s use of the controversial stop-and-frisk tactic plunged 80 percent over the last few months.

In the time between July and September, officers made a little over 21,000 stops under the stop-and-frisk tactic. During the same time period in 2012, though, that number was sitting at 106,000 stops.

Not only are there fewer stops, but the Associated Press also reported that police are recovering fewer weapons, too. This year, the NYPD recovered 99 firearms and 463 knives in the third quarter. Last year, the 198 guns and over 1,000 knives were collected.

John McCarthy, an NYPD spokesman, told the AP there’s no “correct number of stops” that officers should be making.

“Ultimately, police officers make their decisions based on real-time observations from the field — and those stops are based on reasonable suspicion,” he added.

New York City is currently on track to record its lowest number of annual murders in history this year, and Donna Lieberman, the New York Civil Liberties Union head, said these numbers prove stop-and-frisk is not necessary to ensure the safety of residents.

“Even as (Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s) administration doggedly defends its stop-and-frisk program in court and in the public, these numbers are tacit recognition that it’s misguided and not necessary for the public safety,” she told the AP.

The massive drop in police stops has been revealed in the wake of an August ruling by a federal judge that declared stop-and-frisk unconstitutional for unfairly targeting minorities. The judge ordered that the policy undergo major reforms, but that ruling is on hold while the city appeals.

Police stops via the controversial tactic have been in decline since before that ruling, however. In May 2012, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly implemented a new training procedure that included creating an early warning system, which identified officers who’ve received complaints from residents for their actions, as well increased accountability for officers at weekly meetings.

The general effectiveness of stop-and-frisk has also been questioned, as a September study by the Vera Institute of Justice found the tactic to erode the public’s trust in law enforcement. Even victims of violent crimes were found less likely to go to the police.

“Our main finding is pretty plain and simple: Stop-and-frisk is compromising the trust needed for public safety,” lead researcher Jennifer Fratello said to the New York Daily News.