Stop & Frisk Accomplishments: Barely Any Illegal Weapons Recovered, But Tons Of Weed Smokers Jailed

from the high-crimes dept

We’ve already discussed the abomination NYC Mayor Bloomberg has unleashed on his own people in the form of random searches of scary dark-skinned people, more commonly known as stop and frisk. The justification of a blatantly racist policy that nonetheless undermines the civil liberties of an entire city’s population has taken a couple of turns. They started by assuring us they had a checklist, because that apparently means something to someone, somewhere. Then His Honor weighed in on the matter himself, saying:

“Look at what’s happened in Boston,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Remember what happened here on 9/11. Remember all of those who’ve been killed by gun violence and the families they left behind.”

Got it? We need to let police rummage around in people’s pockets because of terrorism and gun violence. Ah, the old simultaneously playing on fear and concern for victims trick. Nicely played, Mr. Mayor. Or, it would have been nicely played if the statistics bore out even a portion of what he said. Unfortunately, thanks to the folks as the NYCLU, the true impact of the stop and frisk program has been revealed in all of its glory, and it essentially amounts to a blip in the gun seizure statistics and a whole lot of people being arrested for marijuana.

Last year, the NYPD stopped and interrogated people 532,911 times, a 448-percent increase in street stops since 2002 – when police recorded 97,296 stops during Mayor Bloomberg’s first year in office. Nine out of 10 of people stopped were innocent, meaning they were neither arrested nor ticketed. About 87 percent were black or Latino. White people accounted for only about 10 percent of stops.

The NYCLU analyzed the NYPD’s full 2012 computerized stop-and-frisk database, which contains detailed information not included in the quarterly stop-and-frisk reports the Police Department provides the City Council. The analysis examines multiple aspects of the 2012 stop-and-frisk data, including stops, frisks, use of force, reason for stop and recovery of weapons. The analysis provides detailed information at a precinct level and a close examination of race-related aspects of stop-and-frisk.

And the survey says? Well, it says that the program has been an absolute failure, unless its intention was always about filling up prisons for non-violent crimes. The analysis shows a complete lack of uniformity in how the program is utilized across precincts, that it is overwhelmingly used to stop minorities (who were found to be innocent at the same 90% rate as everyone else), that the total number of weapons recovered in 2012 increased by a total of 96 guns compared with 2003 when there was no stop and frisk program (a 0.02% increase), and that 26,000 people were stopped for offenses related to marijuana. Arrests due to marijuana possession were the most common reason for arrest resulting from stop and frisk.

What does this mean? Well, it means Mayor Bloomberg is either a liar or he simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about. To say that stop and frisk is all about combating terrorism and illegal guns, despite the program’s lack of success doing either, shows a frightening level of incompetence and/or malice. All of this on top of the fact that violent crime is on a decline in New York City. Keep in mind that all of this comes at the cost of distrust of police by citizens, distrust of government by citizens, and the disenfranchisement of the minority population. Oh, and unless you’ve been sleeping the past year, you probably know that the laws surrounding marijuana in this country are becoming more lax by the minute.

With nearly nothing to show for it, how does His Honor continue to defend such a deplorable policy?

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Comments on “Stop & Frisk Accomplishments: Barely Any Illegal Weapons Recovered, But Tons Of Weed Smokers Jailed”

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Nicholas Weaver (profile) says:

Worse, the pot busts are largely SYNTHETIC!

It is a crime to DISPLAY any quantity of Marijuana, but it is NOT a misdemeanor in NYC to possess very small quantities, just a infraction.

But once they frisk the victim, and remove the pot from the pocket (EVEN THOUGH its clearly too small to be a weapon) it becomes a misdemeanor because now the victim is displaying the pot!

So for most of the 26,000 arrested for pot, their only arrestable crime was a direct result of BEING FRISKED!

More details at the New York Times.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Worse, the pot busts are largely SYNTHETIC!

I am fully against synthetic weed. Most of the high from Weed comes from the high amounts of THC crystals that microscopically form on the leaf of the plaint. Real weed, when treated responsibly like drinking alcoholic beverages (yes get as stoned as you like..there are physical consequences to prolonged, long term use though), can be very enjoyable.

The main issues I have with synthetic weed is that it is based on ground up chemical plastics with GLASS BEADS attached which contain the THC. Those glass beads rip the tissue of your throat and lungs to deliver the THC into your system. The glass beads only strike the surface though. Weed is like an alcoholic beverage in many respects. This includes detriment in physical visual perception in relation to your motor skills. You get a slightly delayed response. Normally this is just fine…but the synthetic weed industry never warned people of the danger, and they advertised as being the same as smoking a tobacco cigaret. Now imagine having that same impaired motor skill and distance judgement that an alcoholic beverage brings….that is what the synthetics were supposed to bring. The same buzz.

So Yeah I can see why the fake stuff is illegal…it does more harm to you physically than actual plant based weed would.

Now…illegal substance…and guns on premiss….that constitutes the use of a SWAT squad under the jurisdiction of the DEA to apprehend these people that they do not know if they will fight back. It is to protect innocents in the are in case a fire fight breaks out.

The Real Michael says:

“With nearly nothing to show for it, how does His Honor continue to defend such a deplorable policy?”

Slowly but surely our country is being transformed into a huge prison. Think about it: TSA patdowns and full-body scanners, ‘stop and frisk,’ no-fly lists, the militarization of the police, drones, warrantless spying, cameras everywhere. All that’s needed now are iron bars.

Anonymous Coward says:

This article is about NEW YORK CITY.

The city with the raciest, dumbest, most hate fill bigoted elite whose sole occupation is scamming honest people of their hard earned wealth.

So, who cares?

Let them kill, jail, beat, and steal and have the modt corrupt government ever just so long as the do it to each other with such sufficient passion that exterminate all living people in that hell hole of hate.

Anonymous Coward says:

The math...

“a total of 96 guns compared with 2003 when there was no stop and frisk program (a 0.02% increase)”

Um… you’ve got some weird math going on there. If 96 guns represents a 0.02% increase, that would mean they were finding about 480,000 guns per year before and 480,096 now. That’s obviously wrong.

The extra 96 guns actually represent a 15% increase in guns found. Although guns are still only found in a fraction of a percent of all stops (0.14%) – and the percentage of stops that result in a gun found has been going DOWN because the number of stops has increased WAY more than 15%.

Perhaps what you meant to say was, the ADDITIONAL stops have resulted in guns about 0.02% of the time. The stops have increased by 372,060 and the guns found have increased by only 96. If that’s what you meant, you really should have been clearer. I’ll agree that a 1 in 3875 chance that a stop will find a gun is nowhere near enough to justify the program.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The math...

The phrasing in the techdirt article is wrong. The source phrasing though explains the math:

In 2012 as compared to 2003, the earliest year that a gun recovery figure is available, the NYPD conducted 372,060 more stops but recovered only 96 more guns. That amounts to an additional recovery rate of 0.02 percent.

So the 0.02% figure is the gun recovery rate on the additional stops i.e. 96/372,060. The techdirt phrasing makes it sound like the 96 additional guns recovered only increased total guns recovered by 0.02%

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps the Private Prison industry is the real reason for this

Private Prisons often make states sign contracts that guarantee the prison will be over 90% full to it’s maximum capacity, even as high as 95% full, with big financial penalties if they aren’t.

This gives states a direct incentive to throw MORE people in jail, no matter how minor the crime, because they’d get a big fine if they don’t throw more people in jail.

Private prisons also have been shown to cost the state MORE money then publicly own and operated prisons. So why exactly do we have private prisons in the first place?

Anonymous Coward says:

Failure:Success ratio if it's actually about guns.

If we assume that EVERY additional gun seized by police in 2012 was due to Stop-and-Frisk and ignore any other factor (population changes, etc).

Then it seems to me that Stop-and-Frisk more than a 5,500:1 failure to success ratio.

Just think about what happens to that ratio when you remove the hilariously optimistic assumption required just to get 5,500:1

Anonymous Coward says:

An enormous law enforcement effort seeks to raise prices at every point in the supply chain from farmers to end-users: Eradicating coca crops in source countries, hindering access to chemicals required for drug production, interdicting smuggling routes internationally and within our borders, street-level police actions against local dealers.

That?s why this may be the most embarrassing graph in the history of drug control policy. (I?m grateful to Peter Reuter, Jonathan Caulkins, and Sarah Chandler for their willingness to share this figure from their work.) Law enforcement strategies have utterly failed to even maintain street prices of the key illicit substances. Street drug prices in the below figure fell by roughly a factor of five between 1980 and 2008. Meanwhile the number of drug offenders locked up in our jails and prisons went from fewer than 42,000 in 1980 to a peak of 562,000 in 2007.

Christopher (profile) says:

Selective evidence

Maybe NYPD hasn’t recovered a lot of guns, maybe the weed busts are incident, but the crime rate is way down over the same period. It’s nice to think, in theory, all people are equal, but the reality is that they are stopping and frisking people that look like shitbirds. Don’t wanna get stopped? Don’t dress like a shitbird. The culture that owns that look needs to die. The end.

rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Selective evidence

Stopping and frisking people that dress like shitbirds.

That’s fantastic. The bus for Moronville is departing and I believe that there may be a spot reserved for you.

So, now, in your American New York City, I have to dress “right” with my bag of weed in my pocket to walk down the street without suffering from anxiety?

I’m not quite certain you’ve nailed the culture that needs to die. I’m quite sure that you didn’t, actually.

I think east germany has called and they want their F?hrer back. Something or other about long haired hippies on the street.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Selective evidence

the crime rate is way down over the same period

Yes, but it’s way down nationwide, not just in NYC. That implies that the reduction has nothing to do with stop & frisk.

Don’t wanna get stopped? Don’t dress like a shitbird. The culture that owns that look needs to die. The end.

So you advocate arresting people for the way they look? You seriously want a literal Fashion Police?

You terrify me far more than any criminal I’ve ever seen.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

I’m not quite certain you’ve nailed the culture that needs to die. I’m quite sure that you didn’t, actually.

Yeah, for a country touting itself as “The Land of The Free” it’s amazing how many people there take it to mean “As long as I’m free and people that look and think exactly like me, then everyone else can go f*ck themselves” isn’t it?

John85851 (profile) says:

How does frisking stop terrorists in airplanes?

If the mayor wants to relate the stop-and-frisk program to terrorism, could he please explain how stop-and-frisk could have stopped the terrorists on 9/11… who boarded planes in Boston and flew into buildings? Yes, no one wants this to happen again, but is frisking random people really going to stop Al-Queda from hijacking airplanes and flying them into buildings?

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