If you live in New York City you probably have a strong opinion on the mayor and police commissioner's stop-and-frisk policy. It has become a major issue for the mayoral election as well as the idea that the NYPD needs an independent watchdog agency to oversee their operations as they seem to refuse to police themselves.
Opponents to the policy argue that it unfairly targes Black and Latino men while those who support it point to the reduction in crime during the last decade that it has been implimented. Whether the drop in crime can be attributed to the stop-and-frisk can be debated, but it does take at least some drugs and weapons off the street. It is also effective in identifying menbers of certain gangs and the police are able to control the high-crime neighborhoods better with such tactics.
The question is whether the crime fighting results, minimal or not are worth the harassment and intimidation of millions of Black and Latino men. If the police were entirely candid they would say that of course they stop inner city Black and Hispanic males, they account for a large portion of those defendants who are arrested every day for drug dealing, weapons possession, robbery, assault, domestic violence, theft related crimes, and murder.
They will say that they do not stop the elderly, bussinessmen, children, or other types of people because in their experience they are not involved in crime on a regular basis out on the mean streets of NewYork. If they were candid they would say that Black and Hispanic males age 16-30 who are on the streets at night in high crime areas bring it upon themselves as they are the ones most likely to be carrying drugs or weapons or committing crimes. That statement would be racist if it were not statistically true and no one can debate that fact.
Despite that fact,statistics have shown that the vast majority of Black and Latino males the poilce have stopped without probable cause or reasonable suspicion were innocent and had nothing illegal on them. An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that roughly 4 million innocent men were stopped, frisked, and interrrogated since 2002 and the vast majority were doing nothing wrong, unless being Black or Latino is a crime.
Nearly nine out of ten of those men who were stopped and frisked [and often searched] have been completely innocent according to the NYPD's own internal reports. In 2012, 533,042 New Yorkers were stopped by the police. Almost 89% of them were innocent [473,300]. Of those, 286,684 were Black [55%], 166,212 were Latino [32$] and only 50,615 were white [10%].
What this means is that the police are profiling Black and Latino males in certain neighborhoods to try and control crime, identify gang members, get guns off the streets, and discourage street drug sales. They know that most of the people will not have guns or drugs on them and they will tell you that it is because since 2002 the criminals have learned not to carry weapons or drugs around since the poilce are going to search them if they are out on the street or riding around in high-crime neighborhoods. Drug dealers have learned to keep their stash in a safe location to deal from and not have them down their pants as was the case previousely.
I live in Murray Hill, a quiet residential neighborhood. The police do not bother stopping Black or Latino men in Murray Hill because there are no gangs, drug dealers, or robberies in that neighborhood. If you go to housing projects, poor neighborhoods, and areas of the Village, the Bronx, and Brooklyn there are hundreds of police and undercover officers stopping thousands of men every day. They watch them sell drugs, often setting them up with undercover drug buyers or undercover police officers. They make hundreds of arrests every day, and almost all of them are either Bklack or Latino males.
You have to ask, is this racist profiling or just the police catching the criminals? Actually it is both, the police know where to look for crime and the criminals get caught in their net. If bussinessmen on Park Avenue were selling drugs out of their briefcases they would be out there looking to catch them in the act too. If little old ladies were snatching ipods and iphones on the subway the police would keep an eye out for the granny grabbers. The simple fact is that the police will do as they please no matter what the rules, laws, or policies are and they will always look at certain men as the "usual suspects." They do not stop women as they do not usually commit crimes, deal drugs on the street, or carry guns.
What needs to be done is to have the captains and police commissioner punish any officer who makes stops and harasses any citizen without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, which means essentialy that there is an actual reason to believe that there is a crime that is being committed or that is about to be committed, before they can bother an American citizen no matter what color he is. This is unfortunatlly easier said than done.
Having an independent agency to oversee the NYPD and have power over the poilce commissioner is not likely to change anything and may just cause more beaurocracy and red tape, making it even harder for the brave men and women, many of which are Black and Latino, to do their job and to protect and serve.
They need to fight terrorists, gangs, and to control the thousands of criminals who rape, rob, and assault the citizens of New York every day. Let's not tie their hands, but let us not give them a free hand to target certain people and make their lives miserable in the name of keeping the streets a little safer.
The statistics have proven that their tactics of stopping every Black and Latino male in certain neighborhoods has not really produced a lot of guns, it has just further alienated the poilce from that portion of society. The police have to be fair as well as smart in thwarting crime and thay have to have a better reason to stop a man than just the fact that he is Black.