New figures show that the number of New Yorkers stopped and questioned by the NYPD has declined sharply in recent months, around the same time the practice was coming under intense criticism. Is there a connection between the two? Our Bobby Cuza takes a closer look.
There's been a big drop in the number of stop-and-frisks conducted by the New York City Police Department.
According to the department, the number of police searches dropped by 34 percent between the first and second quarters of the year.
Officers conducted 133,934 stop-and-frisks between April 1 and June 30, down from 203,500 during the first three months of the year.
The NYPD says about 1,800 weapons were pulled off the streets in the second quarter, including about 200 guns.
The drop in stop-and-frisks comes amid strong criticism of the policy.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says that has nothing to do with the drop. Instead, he says it is because the first quarter of the year there were more officers deployed to high-crime areas known as "impact zones," where many stop-and-frisks occur.
"As that double up situation was reduced, the numbers usually generated by impact, which are as high as 30 percent and sometimes as high as 40 percent, naturally went down," Kelly said.
The police commissioner also says more officers have received sensitivity training.
“We’re hopeful that the training is improving the quality of the stops and the quality of the reporting,” said Kelly.
Critics, like the New York Civil Liberties Union, say the downward trend is encouraging but inconclusive.
“While the overall numbers are important, as an indication of just how out of control stop-and-frisk is, we need more information,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
What’s needed, they say, are more fundamental reforms to rein in the practice.
“Instead of using it like a surgeon’s scalpel, you use it like a blunt ax, and if you get up to numbers like 700,000 [or] 800,000 stop-and-frisks, the fact that we’re down 34 percent doesn’t really change much for the communities that are impacted by this policy,” said Glenn Martin of the Fortune Society.
While he did not address the topic Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a staunch and persistent defender of stop-and-frisk, noting the murder rate is down 16 percent this year compared to last, though overall crime is up slightly this year.