The New York Police Department’s data on “stops and frisks” of citizens shows a shocking racial disparity, according to a constitutional rights organization. NY1’s Roger Clark filed the following report.
David Floyd says he was stopped by police twice in his Bronx neighborhood within a year, and he believes he was targeted because of his race.
"They frisk you, they go inside, you know, they do the outside and they do the inside," said Floyd, who is part of a class action suit lawsuit charging the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling.
Police defend “stop and frisk” as a valuable crime-fighting tool, but the lawsuit counters that police stop and frisk New Yorkers without cause.
The Center for Constitutional Rights looked at the NYPD’s stop and frisk data, covering more than 1.5 million stops from 2005 through the first half of 2008, and found that 80 percent of total stops happened to blacks and Latinos. Only around 10 percent of the stops affected whites.
The NYPD says their statistics show that stop and frisk reflects "overall descriptions by race provided by victims or surviving witnesses of crime." The department’s statement then says that stop and frisk "is part and parcel with police work, in a city where police have driven crime down to historic lows.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights questions the practice’s value, saying only about one out of every 20 stops led to an arrest.
"The stop and frisk method that the police department is using right now is not an effective law enforcement tool," said CCR representative Vincent Warren.
The report results hit home for some black New Yorkers.
"My nephew was stopped for no reason and he was on his way to school and they stopped him. He had a school pass and everything - they stopped him saying he looked like the description of somebody else," said one local.
"They thought I fit the description of a guy who had a knife who stabbed somebody a couple of blocks from my house, so it's kind of disturbing sometimes when things happen like that," said another.
NY1 spoke with some white people, and found that none had experienced being stopped by police.
"No, I've never been stopped for anything, no," said a local.
"Never stopped or frisked or asked questions, nothing," said another.
In September, a federal court ordered the NYPD to release all existing stop and frisk data since 1998.