The New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy came under attack this week from city council members considering four laws that would restrict the encounters and create the post of an inspector general to monitor the practices, according to an article from Bloomberg.
Police stopped 685,724 people they deemed suspicious on streets in 2011, of whom 84 percent were black or Hispanic, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based nonprofit that, in 2008, filed a civil-rights suit in Manhattan against the NYPD for the tactic, Bloomberg reports.
About 200 people packed the council’s City Hall chambers Wednesday for the hearing, where members took turns questioning Michael Best, counsel to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who opposes the bills to remove the stop-and-frisk policies. Others at the meeting expressed disappointment at the absence of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who declined to attend.
Best presented a statement to the Committee on Public Safety, arguing that it had no power to change police policies, saying that the state has exclusive control.
“I hope today’s hearing sends a message that the council’s call for reforming stop, question and frisk continues,” says Christine Quinn, Council Speaker and a probable Democratic mayoral candidate in 2013. “Although stop, question and frisk should be used as a tool in the police department’s tool box, when we have almost 800,000 stops at the peak targeting almost exclusively African-American and Latino men in neighborhoods of lower income, clearly that is a problem.”
According to Bloomberg, New York spent $633 million settling and paying judgments on thousands of lawsuits alleging police abuse and civil-rights violations from 2006 to 2011. The new laws would allow a person to sue the city with evidence than an officer was motivated by racial profiling in a stop-and-frisk.
The laws would also create an office of inspector general within the NYPD to monitor civil liberties and community relations. Police would be required to identify themselves when stopping people and obtain consent before searching someone’s pockets or belongings, the Bloomberg article reports.
Crime in New York has dropped 34 percent from 2001 to 2011, including a 21 percent decrease in homicides, the article says. Mayor Bloomberg attributes the declines to the city’s $4.5 billion, 35,000-officer police department and its stop-and-frisk policies.