New York’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy is Creepy and Ineffective

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New York’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy is, in a word, gross. Not only does it demonstrate a flamboyant disregard for civil liberties, but also the blunt (no pun intended) of the twisted policy harms minorities. Shocking—an overbearing government’s policies are disproportionately affecting minorities.

The evidence of extreme racial profiling is damning. In defense of how many minorities are stopped, Mayor Bloomberg said, “[…] but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses describe as committing the murder. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”  (Yes, he actually said that in defense of Stop-and-Frisk.) However, only 11 percent of stops in 2011 were based on a description of a violent crime suspect. In contrast, from 2002 to 2008, black and Latino citizens made up almost 90 percent of people stopped. This is not just a case of demographic trends, either. Even in mostly white areas, blacks and Latinos were stopped a majority of the time. For example, blacks and Latinos make up just 24 percent of the population, but made up 79 percent of stops in the area.

Even if you don’t buy into the racist aspect of this program, you should be concerned about the invasion itself and its results (oh, and read the above paragraph about 100 more times). Since 2003, between 87 and 90 percent of people stopped have been completely clean and innocent. Police officers are required to fill out paperwork on their stops, but that doesn’t help much, considering they are allowed to stop anyone on the grounds of just about anything, including “Furtive movements,” “wearing clothes/disguises usually used in commission of crimes,” “suspicious bulges,” etc.

Imagining this sort of unnecessary and grotesque public humiliation is nearly impossible. Hell, I get embarrassed when I try to pull a door that says, “push.” And it’s not even helping anyone stay safer. Stop and Frisk is just another example to file under the topic of big government not producing the results it promised.

Luckily, last week, the New York City Council approved a pair of bills, jointly known as the Community Safety Act. One bill publishes police reports for the public and assigns a commissioner within the Department of Investigation to oversee and inspect the New York Police Department. The other makes it easier for citizens to sue the NYPD if they feel they have been discriminated against based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other traits.

Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to override the Community Safety Act. The Act passed with a veto-proof majority, however, so Bloomberg’s veto will simply delay the inevitable. “These are bad bills,” Mayor Bloomberg alleged. “The racial profiling bill is just unworkable. Nobody racially profiles.”

Au contraire, Mayor Bloomberg.