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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

OPINION - Stop and Frisk is Sound Policing

The NYPD use of stop, question and frisk is sound policing 
The New York Daily News  -  OPINION  -  May 21, 2012
Ray Kelly and his cops are protecting lives and safeguarding rights  - Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has keep up his successful stop, question and frisk policy. 

The Police Department’s most strident critics accuse the cops of racial profiling because blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to be stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked. Based solely on the statistics, they charge the police with improperly taking background into account, thereby conducting thousands of stops that violate constitutional rights. Among those who hold this unfounded view is Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin, who has exposed the department to a class-action lawsuit that is grounded in theories and numbers amassed, it seems, to confirm her rather skewed personal opinions. Given this focus on racial profiling by the numbers, now is an opportune moment to discuss the phenomenon candidly and to state that the NYPD would be better held responsible for profiling that has produced enormous good for the city’s minorities. Blacks and Hispanics suffer the brunt of crime to a far greater degree than whites, and poor communities have benefited most as the NYPD has driven felonies down to record levels. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly presents remarkably startling numbers on the topic in an adjacent Op-Ed. As but one example, he notes that, according to the Health Department, residents of predominantly black Brownsville, Brooklyn, have been 30 times more likely to be murdered than residents of the largely white Murray Hill section of Manhattan.

Meanwhile, the NYPD on Friday published its annual report on murder in the city, this volume covering 2011. The document showed that blacks compose 23% of the population but represent 62% of murder victims and 59% of murder suspects — proportions that are roughly in line with the number of blacks who are stopped for questioning. Most startling, and of greatest import, the report revealed that from 2010 to 2011, the number of black murder victims dropped by 10%, accounting for the full decline in slayings citywide that year. The NYPD is obviously paying attention to the city’s black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including with the stop and question effort as well as Operation Impact, which floods high-crime areas with cops. Profiling? You make the call. Murder has continued to trend downward. As of Friday, the city had experienced 136 slayings this year — 20% fewer than last year on a pace that would achieve an astounding breakthrough in saved lives. It won’t happen on its own. New York is a still a place of tentative peace. As the Daily News reports Monday, shootings are up for the year by about 6%, again with the violence concentrated in minority neighborhoods — exactly where police must continue to stop and question people when the cops have a reasonable suspicion of criminality. Many of the department’s critics — including Scheindlin — suggest with no more than numbers and unconfirmed anecdotes that the police are stopping people willy nilly without the requisite reasonable suspicion. Perhaps they will think otherwise after reading Pete Donohue’s column in Monday’s News. Donohue interviewed Steve McCallister, who commanded the NYPD’s Transit Bureau from 2005 to 2008. McCallister, now a police chief on Long Island, said that, for purposes of quality control, he checked on the criminal histories of everyone his officers had stopped and questioned in the subway system. He discovered that half had criminal records. What this all adds up to is not racial profiling. It’s criminal profiling.

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