NYPD Officers Testify That Stop and Frisk Targets Racial Minorities

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A landmark class action suit has put the NYPD’s “stop and frisk”  policy on trial, alleging that it is just another form of racial profiling

Under the program police officers can stop, question and frisk someone they reasonably suspect has committed a crime, is in the process of committing a crime or may commit a crime in the future.  According to the NYPD’s statistics  between 2002-2012, 1 in 8 people  stopped were accused of a crime.  Proponents of “stop and frisk” credit it with the declining murder rate and removing guns from the streets. However, they forget to mention the racial profiling was involved from the policy’s inception.

They also forget to mention that as the years went on, the number of people who received summonses as a result of “stop and frisk” were consistently low. In other words, there were a lot of people who were wrongfully stopped.

According to a report in The Guardian last year,

“The vast majority people who were stopped in 2011 – and in every year since the policy began – were African American or Latino. Last year’s total marks an increase of 14% from 2010. True to previous years, most of those stopped were not arrested. In 2011 just 12% of those stopped received summonses, down from 14% in 2010.”

The NYACLU  tabulated has the figures each year. The record low of people who weren’t arrested occurred in 2002 in which “only” 82% of the people stopped were innocent of any wrong doing.  The record high was 90% in 2006.

This was a law suit waiting to happen – more so when you consider that the people stopped were young men from racial minority groups.

Naturally, defenders of “stop and frisk” insist that we stop paying attention to that racial profiling behind the curtain.

“The quota allegations are a sideshow,” city attorney Heidi Grossman said in opening statements Monday. “Crime drives where police officers go,” she added. “Not race.”

Defense attorneys worked to discredit the 4 witnesses who testified about their experiences on the receiving end of “stop and frisk” who were trying to suggest that the four were motivated by an anti-police bias.

On Tuesday, Officer Adhyl Polanco’s testimony contradicted Grossman’s statements, as did the audio tape evidence that Polanco gathered.

According to Polanco, “We were handcuffing kids for no reason.”

According to CNN, Bronx Police Officer Pedro Serrano also recorded roll call meetings.

The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/22/nypd-stop-frisk-quota-race reports on the contents of the tapes, as heard in court.

On a track played Thursday, Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack was heard telling Serrano he needed to stop “the right people, the right time, the right location”. When asked what he believed McCormack meant Serrano told the court: “he meant blacks and Hispanics.”

Later in the tape McCormack says: “I have no problem telling you this … male blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem [to] tell you this, male blacks 14 to 21.

The officers also testified on the various incentives authorities used to persuade them to get with the racial profiling program.

According to Polanco, “They said, ‘You do it or you are going to become a Pizza Hut deliveryman.'”

Serrano claims fellow officers vandalized his locker with stickers of rats in retaliation to his expressed concerns about stop and frisk.

Serrano went on to testify about other incentives to get with the program, like forced overtime on his days off, being yelled at, getting bad reviews and being denied days off.

On Friday, Department Deputy Chief admitted he set summons and arrest quotas, which he called goals because officers were performing poorly.

Sounds like an admission of quotas to me.  Moreover, when someone in a position of authority at the NYPD tells his officers he has no problem telling them to go after black men between 14 and 21, racial profiling is involved.

Most telling is the frequency by which people are based on the nebulous standard of “reasonable suspicion.” From all appearances, the only reason they were stopped is that they were on the street while Black or Hispanic. Whatever alleged benefits of the policy are far outweighed by the fact that it de facto creates tiers of citizenship and civil rights protection based on race.  If a policy fails as frequently as “stop and frisk” does, it means the policy is inherently flawed – even if race wasn’t a factor.

Looking at this from another perspective, if someone did his or her job wrong 80-90% of the time, that person would be fired.  If an over the counter drug proved fatal 80% -90% of the time, it would be removed from the shelves.  Doctors wouldn’t prescribe medications that cause adverse affects 80% -90% of the time, even if by some major oversight such drugs got clearance from the FDA. If a blood test produced false positives or false negatives 80-90% of the time, the test would be considered unreliable.  So why would anyone believe that a policy which fails 80%-90% of the time and has done so for a decade, is a policy worth pursuing, let alone one worth defending?

When police officers stop people, are proven wrong when doing so 80-90% of the time, and most of the people wrongfully stopped are members of a minority racial group, it isn’t a sideshow.  It’s an outrage.

Image Huffington Post

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