Mayor Bloomberg came out swinging against the NYCLU this weekend, defending the NYPD’s racist controversial stop-and-frisk policy against the civil rights organization’s ongoing critiques and calling the group “no better than the NRA.” “If the NYCLU is allowed to determine policing strategies in our city,” he said at a Queens church on Sunday, “many more children will grow up fatherless and many more children will not grow up at all.”
Both Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly maintain that the main thrust of the stop-and-frisk program is to keep illegal guns off the street. According to their line of thinking, if stop-and-frisk can save any potential victims of gun violence, the reality that officers may be stopping innocent people is an unfortunate but unavoidable side effect.
Such an argument might be defensible if the program actually worked. Today, WNYC released an interactive map that plots stop-and-frisk hot spots–blocks where 100 or more stops have occurred–against spots where handguns are actually found, and the results are telling. By and large, the areas where handguns are found during stops fall well outside stop-and-frisk hotspots. In the Bronx’s East Concourse section, for example, an area where fewer than 100 stops occur on each block per year, 25 guns were found in 2011. Conversely, the area surrounding Gravesand’s Marlboro Houses was subject to 1,524 stops last year, none of which turned up any guns.
Another alarming statistic: of the over 685,000 stops that occurred in 2011, only 770–a paltry tenth of a percent–actually resulted in the recovery of a gun. Even if one were to take stop-and-frisk on the mayor’s terms, putting aside the fact that it encourages racial profiling and is an intrusion on the civil rights of every New Yorker, it’s becoming clearer that the program simply isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do.