The New York Civil Liberties Union has just released the results of its analysis into just who gets stopped and frisked by the NYPD and why. As we discussed in April, the NYCLU obtained the department's own data on the policy between 2002 and 2012 and could come to no conclusion other than that NYPD officers stop and frisk people based primarily on race. In that ten-year period, fewer than 10 percent of those stopped were white.
Last year, 532,911 people were stopped by police officers and patted down for weapons. Of those, only 11 percent were arrested or given a summons. After calling attention to the problem of racial profiling in who gets stopped in the first place, the NYCLU has just released its analysis of who gets arrested after a stop and frisk. Their conclusion? "Stop and frisk" may simply be a sneaky way to round up marijuana users.
Keep in mind that the NYPD's stated reason for the controversial policy is to get weapons off the street and drive down violent crime. Even with the policy being actively challenged in court as unconstitutional, and with many of its claims to success being debunked by the press, the department continues to deny the use of racial profiling and to defend the policy as necessary and effective.
Calling the policy in effect a "a Trojan horse for a marijuana arrest program" the NYCLU points out that, of those more than 5,000 people did get arrested after being stopped and frisked, a full 16 percent were charged with possession of marijuana. By contrast, only 0.2 percent of stops yielded weapons.
The civil rights organization also pointed to the fact that New York law practically hands police officers an arrest should they come across marijuana on one of their possibly unconstitutional frisks. If the officer orders a citizen to turn out his or her pockets and this reveals marijuana, the officer can immediately charge the citizen with a misdemeanor for having the weed in "plain view."
The police commissioner called the characterization of the "stop and frisk" policy as a Trojan horse a "silly analogy."
Do you think that expecting law enforcement policies to be constitutional and justified by actual data is "silly"?
Source: New York Daily News, "NYCLU head calls stop-and-frisk initiative 'a Trojan horse for a marijuana arrest program'," Rocco Parascandola, May 23, 2013