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NYPD Pedestrian Stops On the Rise, With Strong Racial Skew

New York City police are stopping dramatically fewer people than they did at the peak of the city's stop-and-frisk era, but a decade after a federal judge clamped down on the city's use of the tactic, street stops are on the rise again and are falling disproportionately on non-white people, Gothamist reports. Citing data provided by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the publication found that racial disparities are even starker now than at the height of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, with just 5% of the pedestrian stops targeting white people since the start of Mayor Eric Adams' administration. Adams, a former New York Police Department officer who ran on a message of public safety, said during his 2021 campaign that stop and frisk could be a useful policing tool if applied properly. NYPD officers are mandated to report every stop they make by filling out a form. The preset reasons range from noting that someone was “carrying a suspicious object” or doing something “indicative of a drug transaction.” But police said they made nearly every stop this year – 92% – because someone either “fit a relevant description” or for a reason they labeled as “other.”

An NYPD spokesperson issued a statement saying the department has multiple layers of oversight and training, including audits, data analysis and the review of body camera footage it uses to investigate stops and takes corrective action where warranted. The statement adds that the department does not impose a quota on officers and carries out all of its work "without consideration of race or ethnicity." Police officers reported stopping 8,502 pedestrians in the first half of 2023. By comparison, police made nearly 700,000 pedestrian stops in 2011. “The good news is there are definitely fewer [stops] happening, but the alarming thing is that the racial disparities and the apparent racial profiling continues,” said Chris Dunn, the NYCLU's legal director. “Many more Black and Latino people are being stopped without any justification whatsoever.” Patrick Hendry, president of the city’s rank-and-file police union, said City Hall and NYPD leadership are sending mixed messages – demanding more “enforcement activity” without formally changing the laws put in place to discourage stop-and-frisk tactics. “We’re concerned that we are going to see even more rank-and-file police officers punished for carrying out policies and strategies we didn’t create,” Hendry wrote this week in an emailed statement to Gothamist.


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