Targeted neighborhoods, pt. 2: NYPD stop and frisk

By Michelle Chen Jan 16, 2009

A new, disturbingly timely report by the Center for Constitutional Rights documents glaring racial disparities in the stops and searches carried out by New York City police. The analysis is hardly surprising, but the data does provide statistical muscle to community advocates who say Black and Latino neighborhoods are wracked by fear of police aggression. Yesterday, the CCR presented key findings of its parsing of records of more than 1.5 million NYPD stops over a 3.5 year period:

“From 2005 to 2008, approximately 80 percent of total stops made were of Blacks and Latinos, who comprise 25 percent and 28 percent of New York City’s total population, respectively. During this same time period, only approximately 10 percent of stops were of Whites, who comprise 44 percent of the city’s population. “Results show that Blacks and Latinos are significantly more likely to be stopped by the police than Whites; that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be frisked after a NYPD-initiated stop than Whites; and that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to have physical force used against them during a NYPD-initiated stop than Whites. Yet the rates of summons and arrests from all stops is not only extremely low, but nearly the same across racial categories.”

The NYPD, meanwhile, latches onto an earlier study by the RAND Corporation that downplayed evidence of racial disparities in policing. The New York Civil Liberties Union challenged RAND’s methodology and said that without full public access to the data, the report smacked of “whitewash.” The latest report, based on recently released government data, folds into a pending lawsuit against the Department, which coincides chillingly with the rising public outrage following the killing of Oscar Grant. In CCR’s announcement of the analysis, David Floyd, a City College student and lead plaintiff in the case, said, “I brought the lawsuit to make sure they don’t do this to other innocent people on the basis of race. The police have to be held accountable when they break the law, just like anyone else.” Photo: Turnbull for NY Daily News