The New York Police Department (NYPD) has some new ammunition for critics of their controversial “Stop and Frisk” policy: the murder rate is down and more guns are off of the street.
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CNN reports that the NYPD is claiming a “21% year-to-date” plunge as of last week Friday. And, with a 10 percent increase of stops, the percentage of illegal guns taken off of the street went up by 31 percent.
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These numbers are related to the department’s Operation Impact and the “stop and frisk” programs, the department argues. The problem, however, is that almost all of the people searched and frisked are minorities. According to the Village Voice, more than 93 percent of all middle and high school students stopped by the NYPD under “stop and frisk” during the last three months of 2011 were African-American or Hispanic.
The program has drawn criticism from notable public figures such as Princeton professor Cornel West, who, along with 19 others, was convicted on disorderly conduct charges more than a week ago for protesting “stop and frisk” on Oct. 21 of last year in Harlem. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has also publicly criticized the program without directly criticizing NYPD Police Chief Ray Kelly.
“We are targeting people based on race and based on a certain profile, that quite frankly is not constitutional and creating a divide in this city,” Stringer said. “I’m here today, because I believe this is not just an issue for people of color, black and Latino people. This is an issue for the entire city. We cannot allow unconstitutional stop-and-frisk to continue, especially when it’s having a negative impact throughout our city.”
Residents in Hunts Point, a neighborhood in The Bronx, told NewsOne that they were not completely against “Stop and Frisk.” Instead, they cited what they felt was a lack of concern for how the communities most impacted by the program would respond to constant police stops.
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African-American New York City councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn, who was cuffed by cops during last summer’s West Indian Festival for allegedly being involved in an incident that a cop was punched, is a prominent critic of “stop and frisk,” not because of the program specifically, but for the way it is carried out.
(Williams was cleared of any wrongdoing)
“Stop And Frisk” does not seem to be going away anytime soon in New York City. Then again, not all New Yorkers who are directly impacted by it are completely against the true intention of the program, which is to make the streets safer. What many Black and Hispanic New Yorkers do desire, however, is to be treated with dignity.
It seems like a difficult juggling for the NYPD to execute.