For years, racist authoritarians in New York City defended the stop-and-frisk program in which primarily black and brown people were repeatedly stopped without any particularized suspicion and forced to turn out their pockets, empty their bags, even strip naked in public on frozen-street corners.
These apologists for human rights abuses bought into the "broken windows" theory of policing, pointing out that violent crime had fallen with the increase in aggressive, racist policing. When a court held that the searches were racist and unconstitutional and ordered them to stop, stop-and-frisk advocates predicted that the violent crime rate in NYC would begin to rise again.
But the opposite happened. Murders, rapes and other violent crimes continued to fall, and they're falling still today.
This prompted the right-wing National Review to run an op-ed by NYT columnist Kyle Smith, who admitted he'd been wrong to promote stop-and-frisk. Writing on Propublica, former NYT metro editor echoes Smith's sentiments, regretting that he ignored the massive human cost of stop-and-frisk in New York during his 2006-2011 tenure.
I sent an email Tuesday morning to Kelly, the former commissioner, to see if he had thoughts looking back. I also emailed an invitation to the spokesperson for current Police Commissioner James O'Neill to talk about his department's dual accomplishments.
"No one could possibly believe there could be 685,000 legitimate stops in a year," the spokesperson, Stephen Davis, said. "We just focused more on learning how crime works. There are a small number of people responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime."
O'Neill has taken some heat from the monitor charged with overseeing the department's reform of stop-and-frisk. A report from the monitor late in 2017 said there was credible reason to believe a large number of police stops were not being counted. Still, the true total could be twice the roughly 10,000 claimed and remain a small fraction of the nearly 700,000 recorded in 2011.
In New York, Crime Falls Along With Police Stops [Joe Sexton/Propublica]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Josh Kehn, CC-BY)