In the first three months of 2012, New York police conducted more than 200,000 frisk searches, which is a 10 percent increase from the same time period last year. Not everyone is happy about the frisking policy – the New York Civil Liberties Union and other groups say that black and Latinos are stopped more than whites.
According to activists, in 2011, police did more stop and frisk searches of black men than the total number of all black men living in New York. Almost all of those frisked this year have been men. Only 10 percent are white, three percent are Asian, over half are black and a third are Latino. Civil rights groups claim that minorities are being unfairly profiled.
However, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly defend the program, claiming it saves lives and has brought down violent crime to record lows. They claim as a result New York is one of the safest big cities in America. They also claim that the demographics of those stopped and frisked correspond to crime data.
In about 90 percent of stops, no further police action was taken. The individual who was frisked is arrested in about 5 percent of stops. Thus far this year, there’s been a 31 percent increase in the number of illegal firearms taken, when compared to the same time period last year. In addition, there have been 129 murders in New York this year, which is a drop of more than 20 percent from last year.
Whether or not the stop and frisk program is a good crime-fighting tool, or fails to reduce crime while unfairly targeting minorities remains to be seen.