Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and civil rights advocates is going after the city's controversial "stop and frisk" policy, after a new report shows a dramatic rise in the number of stops made by New York City Police Department officers.
New data released by the New York Civil Liberties Union shows that in 2011 the NYPD stopped 879 New Yorkers for every gun recovered.
That is compared to 2003, when just 266 New Yorkers were stopped for every gun recovered.
The report also says the practice disproportionately targets people of color. For example, last year there were 168,000 stops of 14- to 24-year-old black males, which is about 10,000 more than the number of black men living in the city.
"It's time for [Police Commissioner Ray] Kelly to stop touting stop-and-frisk as the best thing since sliced bread and really take to heed and take to heart," said Donna Lieberman of the NYCLU. "It's time for his boss, Mayor Bloomberg, to take to heart the human suffering that these policies, these abuses have caused."
De Blasio, who is expected to run for mayor next year, was unveiling a proposal Wednesday to reduce the number of unwarranted stop and frisks.
The plan includes holding commanding officers accountable for the number of unwarranted stops.
"This needs to be addressed now, we need to stop kidding around about who's to be held responsible. The mayor is responsible," said de Blasio. "We need to get the voices of the people into this discussion, which we will do. And we have a tool, that's COMPSTAT, that can be the specific pathway to getting the number right."
Some proposed City Council bills would alter the use of stop-and-frisk, such as requiring police officers to identify themselves when conducting such a stop. Another would require the establishment of an NYPD inspector general.
The public advocate is also launching an online petition calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to issue an executive order dramatically reducing the number of unwarranted stops.
In response, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said in a statement, "Mr. de Blasio may be nostalgic for the days when the ACLU set crime policy in this city, but most New Yorkers don’t want rampant crime to return. The fact is Stop, Question and Frisk keeps guns and other weapons off the streets and saves lives. Make no mistake, we will not continue to be the safest big city in America if Mr. de Blasio has his way."