The NYPD conducted 98 percent fewer stop-and-frisks in the first half of this year than it did in the first six months of 2011 as crime continued to nosedive, the New York Civil Liberties Union reported Tuesday, saying the numbers prove that widespread stops do not contribute to public safety.
The NYPD reported 7,637 stops in the first six months of 2016, with 1,794 tickets or arrests resulting, according to the NYCLU. In contrast, 362,150 people were stopped in the first six months of 2011, with 43,374 tickets or arrests. Despite more stops and more arrests in 2011, crime rates are lower now.
Police officials did not respond to requests for comment. But in a Tuesday speech to the Association for a Better New York, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said September “was the safest of any September” since CompStat began in the mid-1990s, with total crimes last month down 12.1 percent from September of last year. In the last two decades, murders have dropped more than 80 percent and serious crimes more than 75 percent, O’Neill said.
“The most recent numbers once again confirm that the dramatic reduction in stops is not jeopardizing public safety,” Chris Dunn, associate legal director at the NYCLU, said in a statement. While the NYCLU remains concerned about racial disparities in the stops of innocent people that continue to occur, it is “encouraged by the huge drop in the number of innocent blacks being stopped,” Dunn said.
Frederick Vanlierop, 43, a Harlem resident now attending classes to obtain his commercial driver’s license, applauded the reduction in unwarranted stops — and said he has noticed a recent decrease.
“Oct. 30, 2015, was the last time I got stopped,” said Vanlierop.
Vanlierop, who is African-American, said he had been stopped and frisked more than a dozen times without being arrested. “If you’re not doing anything and you’re just walking, it’s really frustrating. So if the numbers are down, that’s really a good thing,” he said.
Vanlierop said that while he was inured to submitting to the ritual — “if you cooperate, it’s over in two or three minutes” — he wasn’t reconciled to its indignity. “It’s embarrassing, especially if you’re walking with someone,” to be treated as a suspect, he said.
In his speech yesterday, O’Neill said the department was eliminating “unnecessary enforcement activity” while “homing in with laser-like precision policing” on those known to be committing crimes.