SF Mayor Drops Stop & Frisk; Sadly, NYC Still Hasn’t

08.07.12 David Lumb

San Francisco mayor Ed Lee dropped his plan to bring Stop & Frisk to the Bay amidst an uproar of criticism from coast to coast, along with serious concern from his board of supervisors and community leaders that the policy would lead to racial profiling. To quote spokesman Christine Falvey in the SF Gate: “He doesn’t want to implement a policy that has the potential to include racial profiling. Looking at best practices, he came up with other options that have a lot more community support.” In its place, SF Police Chief Greg Suhr has insisted on targeted (rather than random) stops, borrowing elements of Boston’s Operation Ceasefire, a mid-90s program of in-person gang surveillance and interaction that includes a subprogram for nightly check-ins of youth on probation.

Stop & Frisks in NYC have dropped 34 percent in recent months due to police commanders’ wariness to push for stops at daily roll calls, police supervisors told the NY Times–but that’s still a drop from 203,500 stops in Jan-Mar to 133,934 from Apr-Jun. The greatest complaint levied at the NYPD–that last year’s 685,724 stops only produced guns less than 1% of the time–is compounded by the humiliation felt by the women in last year’s nearly 16,000 female frisks, who discovered that the NYPD allows any officer to frisk women on the street (only when they are taken in to the station for a thorough search are female officers required). Many who were stopped believed that the NYPD followed the TSA’s practice of only allowing officers of the same sex to frisk those stopped, reported the NY Times:

That belief, though incorrect, is shared by many women, said Andrea Ritchie, a civil rights lawyer and co-coordinator of Streetwise and Safe, a nonprofit organization that focuses on police practices that affect young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are also members of ethnic minorities.

Ms. Ritchie said she believed the confusion spoke to the type of police stops unfolding daily on the streets, especially in cases where officers might have violated constitutional boundaries.

If a woman believes there is no legal basis for the frisk, Ms. Ritchie said, then she may feel that she is being groped simply for the officer’s sexual gratification. “That’s how women have described it to me,” Mrs. Ritchie added.

(Photo: joshkehn/Flickr)