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Friday, February 29, 2008

NYPD to check cops for stop & frisk bias

BY TINA MOORE - DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU - Friday, February 29th 2008

The NYPD is examining ways to track the stop-and-frisk patterns of individual cops to determine whether their actions are racially biased, police said. If instituted, the move would follow one of six recommendations made by the Rand Corp., which studied the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices to determine whether bias existed. "The department is currently examining ways to implement all of the recommendations, including ways to flag anomalous stop patterns by individual officers," said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

In recent years, blacks and Hispanics have made up a greater share of the stops than their percentage of the general population, prompting charges of racial profiling. The department has denied racial bias, saying the stops were based on descriptions of crime suspects, a large majority of whom were described as black or Hispanic. The NYPD, which stopped more than 500,000 New Yorkers in 2006, commissioned the Rand Corp. to perform the review. It concluded that the NYPD's tactics were race-neutral.

Rand researchers called it "problematic," however, that 15 cops stopped substantially more minority pedestrians than other officers and suggested tracking individual cops. Chris Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said tracking individual cops was "an important first step." "But it will be essential to see what behavior they will actually track and what steps they will take when they find problems," he said. "On this last point, the department does not have a good track record."

The report made six recommendations, including reviewing the boroughs with the largest racial disparities in stops and tracking the use of force in stops. Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said identifying cops who needed more training was a good thing. "What they don't want to do," he said, "is to start scapegoating cops and sending a mixed message."

tmoore@nydailynews.com

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