Communities United for Police Reform released a fact-check of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s statements regarding stop-and-frisk, a day after he delivered them in his final State of the City address.
Bloomberg made a series of statements defending his administration’s use of stop-and-frisk that have no basis in fact or evidence, or are simply not true. Communities United for Police Reform and several leaders of its member organizations – along with Council Member Jumaane Williams – criticized the mayor for stretching the truth, misrepresenting facts, and continuing to defend the use of discriminatory policing.
“Attacking illegal guns here in New York City has helped us drive crime down to record lows. And we haven’t done it by locking more people up just the opposite. While the incarceration rate across America has increased by 6 percent over the past decade here in New York City, we’ve reduced it by 32 percent. We’ve done it through pro-active, targeted policing that prevents crime and that includes stopping and questioning people who are acting suspiciously or who fit the description of a suspect.
“I understand that innocent people don’t like to be stopped. But innocent people don’t like to be shot and killed, either. Stops take hundreds of guns off the street each year.
“Today, we are collecting fewer guns, but that is not an excuse to stop it – it is a reason to continue it. Because the possibility of a stop is what scares would-be bad guys into not carrying guns. And if we never find a gun again in a stop, wouldn’t that be wonderful?
“Commissioner Kelly has adopted training and accountability policies to ensure that police officers conduct stops legally, appropriately, and respectfully but make no mistake: We have a responsibility to conduct them and as long as I am mayor, we will not shirk from it.
“Think about it: if New York City had Detroit’s murder rate last year, 4,092 more NewYorkers would have been murdered last year. That’s every person in this room and enough to fill up a few thousands seats in the arena behind me. We know stops save lives. Is there anyone here who would sacrifice his or her life, and the lives of their family and friends, to end stops? I don’t think so.
“We can’t let politics trump public safety and for the next 320 days at least, we won’t.
1. There is no correlation between stop-and-frisk and gun violence and thus no evidence it is responsible for the decline in murders or saving lives.
Despite the 600 percent increase in stop-and-frisk between 2002 and 2011, the number of gun violence victims in New York City has remained at nearly the same level.
* In 2002, when there were 97,296 stops there were 1,892 shooting victims. In 2011, when there were 685,724 stops, there were 1,821 shooting victims.
* There are several examples of the use of stop and frisk and gun violence victims increasing in the same period – as well of both decreasing in the same period – indicating the lack of causality. Most recently in 2012, when stop-and-frisk decreased, gun violence and murders also declined.
2. There is no evidence that stop-and-frisk is responsible for the decline in crime in New York City.
In fact, increasing study shows that ‘broken windows’ policing and its tactics like stop-and-frisk are not responsible for the decrease in crime.
3. Even with Commissioner Kelly’s new “training and accountability policies,” there is significant evidence that stop-and-frisk is still violating the rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. 90 percent of those stopped are not arrested or summonsed, and 90 percent are Black or Latino.
“It’s disappointing that the mayor is comfortable with his legacy being a leader of this city who systemically violated the rights of millions of New Yorkers through his administration’s discriminatory use of stop-and-frisk,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams. The Bloomberg administration’s obsession with the use of stop-and-frisk is discriminatory, illegal and fails to make us any safer, yet he is unrelenting. It is a shame that his obstinance is so irrational it can overshadow real success where he deserves credit. Unfortunately, in many ways Bloomberg’s approach to our communities with respect to policing is worse than Rudy Giuliani, who wasn’t as good with PR.”
“Mayor Bloomberg continues to suggest the falsehood that stop-and-frisk has prevented people from being victimized by gun violence.” said Joo-Hyun Kang of Communities United for Police Reform. “It’s simply not true: despite the 600 percent increase in stop-and-frisk from 2002-2011, gun violence has remained at nearly the same level during that period. It’s disappointing our mayor continues defending the violation of some New Yorkers’ rights and justifying this government-led discrimination.
“We applaud his announced plan to end overnight custody for low-level marijuana arrests, but wish he had acknowledged that many of those arrests are the direct result of unwarranted stops and unlawful searches. Our city needs leadership that respects the rights of all New Yorkers – the City Council should pass the Community Safety Act and we must turn the page on the discriminatory, stop-and-frisk policing regime of the Bloomberg administration.”
“Contrary to Mayor Bloomberg’s wishful thinking, the NYPD’s own data shows that the massive spike in street stops has done little to remove firearms from the streets,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Instead, it has violated millions of people’s constitutional rights and sown distrust between communities of color and the police. New Yorkers need policing practices that keep all of our communities safe while respecting the fundamental rights and liberties of every person, young and old, black and brown.”
“The mayor is warming up his talking points and getting ready for the day next month when the NYPD’s discriminatory stop and frisk policy will finally be put on trial in a court of law,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren. “There has never been a causal link proved between lower homicide rates and stop and frisk, yet the Mayor and his officials repeat the claim ad nauseam hoping that if they say it often enough it will somehow make it fact. He should come to the table and solve this citywide crisis with everyone who has a stake in the issue instead of continuing to defend a policy long since discredited.”
“New York City became the marijuana arrest capital of the world on Mayor Bloomberg’s watch because of the sharp rise in the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk. That’s why Governor Cuomo said ending marijuana arrests is part of stop and frisk reform, even if Bloomberg fails to acknowledge the link,” said Alfredo Carrasquillo of VOCAL-NY. “The vast majority of marijuana arrests in this City, which primarily target young people of color even though white youth are more likely to use marijuana, is the direct result of unconstitutional searches that are often part of stop and frisk encounters. To be clear, marijuana in ‘plain view’ usually means marijuana that is produced during an illegal search by the NYPD.”