July 3, 2013

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg caused jaws to drop on Friday when he said he believes police stop and frisk whites too often and minorities not often enough. Bloomberg also said he plans to veto two key pieces of legislation that would create a police inspector general and make it easier for citizens to sue police over “bias-profiling.”

Bloomberg was, of course, speaking about his controversial Stop-And-Frisk law which allows New York City police officers to stop anyone on the street and pat them down in search of guns. Bloomberg and his gestapo have frequently been criticized for using racial profiling to determine who they harass.

At a news conference on Friday, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the Stop-And-Frisk initiative clearly helps “slow down” crime. “I would submit that our strategies are saving lives,” Mr. Kelly said. He added: “You look at the numbers in this city; you look at the lives that we’re saving, and I would submit to you that the majority of those lives are minorities, and most of them are young men who are being killed for senseless reasons. We are saving those lives, and, quite frankly, we’re saving them at a much greater degree and extent than other cities are.”

Opponents question the benefits of Stop-And-Frisk compared to the risk to the community. City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said,

“While the N.Y.P.D. should continue to have the ability to stop and frisk people where there is a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, I remain convinced that with better monitoring, supervision and accountability we can avoid the corrosive impact of a poorly targeted program. We cannot continue to stop, question and frisk nearly 700,000 New Yorkers in this way without doing harm to the relationship between police officers and the people they are protecting, particularly in communities of color.”

During his weekly radio segment on WOR radio on Friday, Bloomberg said criticism that police use racial profiling to stop a disproportionate number of minorities is unfounded.

“It’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murders,” Bloomberg said. “In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”

Statistics published by the New York Times tell a different story. In 2012, there were 685,724 stop-and-frisk encounters, the highest number in 10 years. Through March of 2013 New York police officers were averaging approximately 2,200 stops per day.

“If the trend continues we are headed toward a projected 730,000 or more stop-and-frisks this year, and we’re looking at well over 650,000 stops of New Yorkers who are so innocent that, in an era of zero tolerance, they walk away without even a summons,” Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the civil liberties group, said. “And the lion’s share of those impacted by the out-of-control policy are black and Latino men.”

According to police records, of the stops so far this year, 54 percent have been blacks, 33 percent Hispanic, 9 percent were white, and 3 percent were Asian. But, according to Bloomberg, 9 percent is a disproportionately high number and police should instead be focusing their attention on minorities.

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson, a Democratic mayoral candidate, said of Bloomberg’s statement, “I couldn’t believe that that thoughtless a comment, that inappropriate a comment, that clearly just-wrong comment, came out of the mouth of the mayor of the city of New York.”

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