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How to Increase the Crime Rate Nationwide

Posted by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:50 PM
  • 15 Replies

June 11, 2013, 6:50 p.m. ET

A racial-profiling lawsuit over the New York Police Department's "stop, question and frisk" policies is now in the hands of a judge whose decision is expected within weeks. Many New Yorkers watched the two-and-a-half-month trial nervously, concerned that a ruling against the NYPD by U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin could spell an end to a police practice that helped the city achieve an astonishing drop in violent crime.

But non-New Yorkers would do well to worry about the case too. A decision against the NYPD would almost certainly inspire similar suits by social-justice organizations against police departments elsewhere. The national trend of declining crime could hang in the balance. And the primary victims of such a reversal would be the inner-city minorities whose safety seems not to figure into attempts to undermine successful police tactics.

New York-style policing—including the practice of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking individuals engaged in suspicious behavior—ought be the city's most valued export. Since the early 1990s, New York has experienced the longest and steepest crime drop in the modern history of policing. Murders have gone down by nearly 80%, and combined major felonies by nearly 75%. No other American metropolis comes close to New York's achievement. Bostonians are twice as likely to be murdered as New Yorkers, and residents of Washington, D.C., three times as likely.


image
Associated Press

The Rev. Al Sharpton, center, leading a protest against New York police policies in 2012.

The biggest beneficiaries of a dramatically safer New York have been law-abiding residents of formerly crime-plagued areas. Minorities make up nearly 80% of the drop in homicide victims since the early 1990s. New York policing has transformed inner-city neighborhoods and allowed their hardworking members a once-unthinkable freedom from fear.

But the city's policing, whose key elements include the rigorous analysis of crime data and commander accountability for public safety, also has been dogged by misconceptions, including the notion that New York policing is racist.

That perception is what drove the just-completed litigation. The suit, Floyd v. New York, specifically targeted stop, question and frisk (critics chronically leave out the "question" part, even though only about half of stops go beyond questioning to actually entail a frisk). This practice, sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968, is at the revolutionary core of New York policing, which aims to stop crime before it happens, rather than simply react to crime after the fact by making an arrest. If a neighborhood has been plagued by purse-snatchings, for example, and an officer sees someone walking closely behind an elderly lady while looking furtively over his shoulder, the cop might stop him and ask a few questions. The stop may avert a theft without resulting in an arrest.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and lawyers from the elite law firm of Covington & Burling, however, charge in Floyd that such proactive tactics are discriminatory, since blacks and Hispanics make up the large majority of individuals stopped and questioned by NYPD cops. The claim ignores the reality that the preponderance of crime perpetrators, and victims, in New York are also minorities. Blacks, for example, constituted 78% of shooting suspects and 74% of all shooting victims in 2012, even though they are less than 23% of the city's population.

Whites, by contrast, committed just over 2% of shootings and were under 3% of shooting victims in 2012, though they are 35% of the populace. Young black men in New York are 36 times more likely to be murdered than young white men—and their assailants are virtually always other black (or Hispanic) males.

Given such a crime imbalance, if the NYPD focuses its resources where people most need protection, the effort will inevitably produce racially disparate enforcement data. Blacks, at 55% of all police-stop subjects in 2012, are actually understopped compared with their 66% representation among violent criminals.

Nevertheless, the spurious claims in Floyd have already been affecting public-safety decisions in the rest of the country, even before the judge's decision is announced.

In 2012, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, after a discussion with New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, proposed upping San Francisco's stop, question and frisk activity to combat a spike of shootings in the city's housing projects. Protests broke out immediately. Local activists called police stops the "New Jim Crow." A petition signed by thousands claimed that stop-and-frisk would "legitimize and legalize racial discrimination." Police Chief Greg Suhr announced "we do not racially profile in San Francisco." After nearly two months of agitation, Mayor Lee backed down.

Reaction was even more furious to a proposal this January by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to hire William Bratton, the original architect of New York's policing revolution, as a crime consultant. Crime in Oakland has soared while pedestrian and car stops have plummeted under a federal policing consent decree that imposes enormous amounts of red tape on police stops and the use of force. Protesters from the Occupy Oakland movement and other left-wing groups brandished "Killer Cops" signs at City Council meetings discussing the Bratton contract. When Mayor Quan and the city council hired Mr. Bratton anyway, the crowd in City Hall shouted: "Let the war begin!"

These incidents are a harbinger of the opposition likely to be spurred in other cities if the Floyd ruling goes against the NYPD. Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has said that it will be a "tragedy" if his city is forced to curtail the pedestrian stops that have reduced crime in inner-city neighborhoods. "That's what worries us about what's happening in New York," Chief Flynn told the Los Angeles Times in April. "It would just be a shame if some people decided to put us back in our cars just answering calls and ceding the streets to thugs."

The irony is that Floyd itself, once it came to trial after five years of preparation, was even weaker than the illogic of its underlying argument would have predicted. The suit's 12 named complainants, standing in for a class of potentially millions, alleged that they had been accosted simply because of their race, yet many either fit a description of a criminal suspect or were engaged in behavior—such as trying to jostle open a house door in a burglary-plagued area—that clearly should have drawn an officer's attention.

The Obama Justice Department, which has launched multiple civil-rights actions against police departments across the country, declined a 2012 request from some New York City Council members to investigate the NYPD for its stop practices. Yet Judge Scheindlin is unlikely to be so circumspect in her ruling. It was Judge Scheindlin, after all, who invited the Center for Constitutional Rights to file Floyd in the first place, after the center missed a deadline to extend an earlier stop, question and frisk ruling of hers that required the collection of the racial stop data now fueling Floyd. If she rules against the NYPD again, the city would most likely be saddled with a costly consent decree like Oakland's, which puts a federal judge in ultimate control of police policy.

Such a result, unless reversed on appeal, would be bad enough for New York's most vulnerable residents, who deserve NYPD's continued protection. But activists across the country should not be encouraged to use the courts to curtail sound policing elsewhere, under the specious principle that police activity that matches the incidence of crime is presumptively racist.

by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:50 PM
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Replies (1-10):
JoJoBean8
by Silver Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 7:02 PM
2 moms liked this

Take away stop, question, and frisk and then take away guns and see what kind of world we will live in. 

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 8:04 PM

BUMP!

JanuaryBaby06
by Gold Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 8:16 PM

IDK this is a toughy for me :/

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 9:07 PM
1 mom liked this

So you are opposed to stopping suspects and talking with them? The police move up the tactics list only if the suspect continues to pose a threat. I think even having the police taking such an active role in the community decreases crime.

You are fine to hamstring the police of your very own block - but I don't think it is fair to force this on crime-ridden, primarily minority neighborhoods where the violence rate has been decreasing with this method.

Besides, which is more important: (1) to stop suspicious individuals and incidentally, decrease crime significantly, or (2) to decide preemptively to avoid prosecuting certain individuals due to race? That is racism. Why would you want to do that?


Quoting JanuaryBaby06:

IDK this is a toughy for me :/



JanuaryBaby06
by Gold Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Quoting SallyMJ:

So you are opposed to stopping suspects and talking with them? The police move up the tactics list only if the suspect continues to pose a threat. I think even having the police taking such an active role in the community decreases crime.

You are fine to hamstring the police of your very own block - but I don't think it is fair to force this on crime-ridden neighborhoods where the violence rate has been decreasing.


Quoting JanuaryBaby06:

IDK this is a toughy for me :/




Are we talking about stopping suspects or stopping potential suspects? Because there is a difference. If your talking about suspects on ongoing cases then I am all for that. However stopping someone because they look "suspicous" is something that I am up in the air with.
SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 10:47 PM
1 mom liked this

No one is a suspect unless they are doing something that is suspect - such as walking too closely behind an old lady (example here), or committing a traffic infraction. Doing the traffic stop is the most common way of finding real suspects. And more and more police do this all the time.

If by chance there happen to be more suspects that are of certain racial backgrounds - Oh, well. It's not like the police tell these people ahead of time, "Hey, why don't you do a 'California stop', OK? And/or you can swipe that old lady's purse. And then I'll stop you, and we can have a couple laughs."


Quoting JanuaryBaby06:


Quoting SallyMJ:

So you are opposed to stopping suspects and talking with them? The police move up the tactics list only if the suspect continues to pose a threat. I think even having the police taking such an active role in the community decreases crime.

You are fine to hamstring the police of your very own block - but I don't think it is fair to force this on crime-ridden neighborhoods where the violence rate has been decreasing.


Quoting JanuaryBaby06:

IDK this is a toughy for me :/




Are we talking about stopping suspects or stopping potential suspects? Because there is a difference. If your talking about suspects on ongoing cases then I am all for that. However stopping someone because they look "suspicous" is something that I am up in the air with.



JanuaryBaby06
by Gold Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 1:58 AM

Quoting SallyMJ:

No one is a suspect unless they are doing something that is suspect - such as walking too closely behind an old lady (example here), or committing a traffic infraction. Doing the traffic stop is the most common way of finding real suspects. And more and more police do this all the time.

If by chance there happen to be more suspects that are of certain racial backgrounds - Oh, well. It's not like the police tell these people ahead of time, "Hey, why don't you do a 'California stop', OK? And/or you can swipe that old lady's purse. And then I'll stop you, and we can have a couple laughs."


Quoting JanuaryBaby06:


Quoting SallyMJ:

So you are opposed to stopping suspects and talking with them? The police move up the tactics list only if the suspect continues to pose a threat. I think even having the police taking such an active role in the community decreases crime.

You are fine to hamstring the police of your very own block - but I don't think it is fair to force this on crime-ridden neighborhoods where the violence rate has been decreasing.


Quoting JanuaryBaby06:

IDK this is a toughy for me :/




Are we talking about stopping suspects or stopping potential suspects? Because there is a difference. If your talking about suspects on ongoing cases then I am all for that. However stopping someone because they look "suspicous" is something that I am up in the air with.




Yeah, don't think I am for that. I live in Philadelphia, where whites are a minority. I live at the edge of the city in a nicer area surrounded by cops because until recently they couldnt leave the city so they all just moved to the edges. That being said, doing what they do, going where they go, seeing what they see and who they tend to deal with here.... many are pretty raciest, I don't know if it's really right to allow them stop people on a whim, I don't know if it's that way everywhere I mean can see the upsides too that is why i'm a little torn but I'm leaning slightly against it to be honest.
SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 5:31 AM

BUMP!

LuvmyAiden
by Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 10:08 AM
1 mom liked this

So let me get this straight. New York wants draconian gun laws so that people are unable to protect themselves AND they want to tie the hands of police who have used this policy of stop & frisk VERY successfully? God I am even more glad that I don't live there and I didn't t think that was possible.

Luvnlogic
by on Jun. 18, 2013 at 10:15 AM
1 mom liked this
I don't know....it's hard to argue with results, isn't it? While there is def an opportunity for abuse of power, shouldn't we just take those who abuse this power on individually while leaving in place a policy that has reduced crime? It's entirely possible that, since I've never been a victim of criminal racial profiling, my opinion may be naive. Which is why I used questions to comment.
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