Representatives of the New York Civil Liberties Union and other officials gathered at the steps of City Hall Tuesday to criticize the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy, which reached record heights in 2011 according to a recent report. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Officials at the New York City Police Department say last year, police officers officially recorded over 684,000 stop and frisks—a 14 percent increase from the year before.
The NYPD says the policy is preventing people from getting killed on city streets, but advocates say police target young blacks and Latinos and that the practice doesn't work in spite of police claims that it saves lives..
"Innocent New Yorkers who on 600,000 separate occasions this past year were stopped, frisked and maybe thrown up against the wall. Barely six percent of these terrorizing encounters resulted in arrest," said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The NYPD says last year, blacks were 53 percent of the stop subjects, Hispanics were 34 percent, and whites made up 9 percent of those stopped.
In a statement, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said, "Stops save lives. Over the past 10 years, there were 5,430 murders in New York City, compared to 11,058 in the decade before Mayor Bloomberg took office. That’s a remarkable achievement—5,628 lives saved—attributable to proactive policing strategies that included stops.”
Police say from the people they stopped and frisked last year, they were able to confiscate 819 guns, and they say that although just over half the people stopped and frisked were black, so were more than two-thirds of all suspects wanted for violent crimes.
Still, activists warn that sort of policing turns black and Latino communities against the NYPD.
"How dare anyone say these policies are good for our neighborhoods when we are telling you that they are not," said City Councilman Jumaane Williams.
They say there's a better way for police to work with the community.
"If you have a professional police force that is interacting in a professional and respectful way,” said Michael Harding, an attorney at the National Action Network, “you are going to have more people participating in gun buyback programs.”