Alot has been made about the stop-and-frisk program that allegedly helped former Mayor Rudy Giuliani clean up New York’s violent streets in the early 1990s. Giuliani’s zero-tolerance policy has been hailed as a difference maker with stop-and-frisk considered as a key component. But the truth tells a different story.
For those unaware stop-and-frisk is when a police officer stops and questions a pedestrian. After which, the officer frisks the individual for weapons and other contraband. It is estimated that close to 90% of stop-and-frisk incidents result in no criminal evidence being found, with the victim ultimately let go.
With a 10% effective rate, is stop-and-frisk worth it?
When reading a 2012 Dennis Smith article for the New York Times, the man vehemently supports the stop-and-frisk program. He begins by making good points especially when discussing the city of Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, when police were making stops at a higher per capita than New York, crime declined. When stops were reduced after a consent decree following a legal challenge, violent crime increased.
It wasn’t until Smith explained the benefits for black and Hispanic communities that he lost all credibility. According to Smith, “As a result of active crime-prevention techniques like stop-and-frisk, they (blacks and Latinos) are being arrested and imprisoned at a drastically lower rate.” How this conclusion was created out of stop-and-frisk statistics is impressively idiotic. Zero relation can be connected between stop-and-frisk, a program that increases the likelihood of black and Latino arrests, and the drop in imprisonment.
Now you probably already know about statistics stating blacks and Latinos are disproportionately stopped under this program, but are you familiar with Adrian Schoolcraft? In order to give his story justice, I have completely quoted it from the his wikipedia page. For people who hate quotas, you will particularly hate this story:
New York police officer Adrian Schoolcraft made extensive recordings in 2008–2009 which documented orders from NYPD officials to search and arrest black people in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. He brought these tapes to NYPD investigators in October 2009 as evidence of corruption and wrongdoing within the department. He used the tapes as evidence that arrest quotas were leading to police abuses such as wrongful arrests, while the emphasis on fighting crime sometimes resulted in underreporting of crimes to keep the numbers down. After voicing his concerns, Schoolcraft was reportedly harassed and reassigned to a desk job. After he left work early one day, an ESU unit illegally entered his apartment, physically abducted him and forcibly admitted him to a psychiatric facility, where he was held against his will for six days. In 2010, he released the audio recordings to The Village Voice, leading to the reporting of a multi-part series titled The NYPD Tapes. That same year he filed a lawsuit against the NYPD and Jamaica Hospital. In 2012 The Village Voice reported that a 2010 unpublished report of an internal NYPD investigation found the 81st precinct had evidence of quotas and underreporting.
Another reason why quotas never work whether when looking to increase minority employment or police arrests. Now I won’t go into my “no quotas” rambling, but I will discuss the failure of stop-and-frisk for a bit. When police try to hide and cover up programs they know are ineffective, a problem presents itself. The act of stop-and-frisk simply does not work well enough for legal support nor are police departments looking for ways to improve it. If programs like these are created solely to harass a group of people, then the program is already a failure. Every American citizen is innocent until proven guilty per the law.
And the treatment of Schoolcraft is even worse. Defacing his name and even kidnapping a man who’s only intent was to protect and serve the people is shameful. People push for Hollywood diversity in the millions, yet when a cop devotes a year of his life to uncovering the truth about the harassment of blacks and Latinos he is met with indifference and harm. Schoolcraft is an American hero who will never receive his just do.
The truth of the Giuliani era is more than just stop-and-frisk. In an interview the former mayor describes in detail how coordinating technology and an increased police force helped pave the way for a safer city. The entire plan Giuliani plan led to improvements, not just one portion of it.
The fact is crime is steadily declining even without stop-and-frisk, and honestly, alot of criminals are smart enough not to hold evidence on them when cops are near-by. But even still, I am sure you are wondering about the 10% of incidents that do work. Isn’t it worth it if in the end we take 10% of criminals off the street?
That’s for each person to decide. Since the program has a worse affect on minority communities it’s easy for other communities to say “stop complaining and accept the program to make everyone safer.” But the simple truth is….the program alone doesn’t make anyone safer.
Here is the ultimate fact, the majority of the criminal evidence found in the 10% isn’t guns or knives or illegal weapons. In fact less than 1% of stop-and-frisk result in a weapon being found. For a nation so bent on protecting our personal identity, we are conveniently lenient when laws disproportionately affect one group’s liberty but not our own.