With approximately 34,500 uniformed officers and 51,000 employees overall – even more than the Federal Bureau of Investigation – the New York City Police Department is the largest police force in the country. It’s a powerful army in its own right and it has been expanding its global presence as it continues to fight the global war on terror. Its list of accomplishments is long and record-breaking. Yesterday, another record was broken: the NYPD performed its 5 millionth “street stop”, better known as “stop-and-frisk,” since 2002.
Under Mayor Bloomberg the NYPD has conducted more stop-and-frisk encounters than the combined populations of Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh. It could be argued that if stopping and frisking citizens is a way to significantly reduce street crimes and nuisance activities then it’s worth the cost and effort, right? Sure. But, unfortunately, approximately 88%, or 4.4 million, of the stops were of innocent people. The stops rank as harassment as they didn’t even result in a ticket or an arrest. What’s more alarming is that over 86% of the individuals who were stopped were either African-American or Hispanic. And yet some still wonder why people within communities of colour carry strong distrust for the police. Discriminatory and abusive stop-and-frisk isn’t exactly a great way to build community support for law enforcement and its representatives.
The NYPD’s abusive and discriminatory stop-and-frisk practises have violated the constitutional rights of millions of people and corroded trust between police and communities of colour across New York City, according to Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NY Civil Liberties Union.
Ms. Liberman has noted that on Monday, a landmark federal trial led by the Center for Constitutional Rights will begin what promises to be a major challenge to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practises. Shortly thereafter, the NYCLU will present their case and argue for “effective remedies to the systemic abuses that have been found in the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program in private apartment buildings.”
It’s long past time that the abuse of racial profiling ends.
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