NYPD Chief Says Ending Stop And Frisk Will 'Hurt Minorities,' Result In A Surge Of Criminal Activity

from the wrong-on-both-counts dept

We've all heard Bloomberg's defense of the NYPD's officially unconstitutional stop and frisk program. Basically, the mayor claims that without being able to harass thousands of minorities a year (88% of whom are never charged, detained or given a summons), the city will immediately fall prey to a crimewave of epic proportions.

In fact, the hint of any sort of regulation or oversight is also greeted by the mayor's proclamations that, if implemented, the streets will run red with the blood of the innocent (also: cops). According to Bloomberg, any additional layer of oversight will so severely impair the decision-making skills of his police force, they'll be unable to respond to a pulled gun with anything other than dying.

So, now we'll have another layer of monitors... You're a police officer. You have to know what orders to follow. If somebody pulls a gun and you WANT TO GET HOME, you don't have time to say, "Well, now wait a second, the commissioner said one thing, the monitor said another and the IG said another." By that time, you're dead.
Fortunately, Bloomberg will be leaving office soon and won't have to bear the burden of a "bunch of people dying" (his words) as a result of this recent court decision. On the other hand, Police Chief Ray Kelly may be around long enough to see his stop and frisk program hampered by oversight and the Constitution, provided he doesn't bolt for the Department of Homeland Security beforehand.

Faced with this still-under-appeal reality, Kelly has been making the rounds to various talk shows, offering his defense of the stop and frisk program. His wording suggests he and Bloomberg have been reading over each other's shoulders.
"The losers in this, if this case is allowed to stand, are people who live in minority communities," he said on CBS' Face the Nation. He noted that 97% of shooting victims are black or Hispanic, reasoned that similar demographics apply if a stop deters a killing and added that there have been more than 7,300 fewer killings in the 11 full years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure so far than in the 11 years before.
I'd like to hear from some minorities if that's OK with you, Kelly. I'd like to see if they're willing to "trade off" a little bit of theoretical safety for the freedom to walk around without being judged as "furtive" or "suspicious" or "not white." You'll have to forgive me for not taking your word for it.

Kelly states crime stats as if that excuses the violations committed by his officers. It doesn't. Judge Scheindlin refused to consider the lowered crime rates as justification for constitutional violations. We've all heard the phrase, "the end justifies the means," and it's never used in reference to appropriate "means." But Kelly and Bloomberg do this all the time in reference to stop and frisk. "Our crime rate is historically low, therefore we'll do whatever we want to maintain it." Not acceptable.

Once the stats have been presented, it's time to switch to Argument B -- the violent crime spectre.
If stop and frisk were abandoned, "no question about it —violent crime will go up," he said on NBC's Meet the Press.
This is one of stop and frisk defenders' favorite claims, one that plays on irrational fear. Irrational fear is one of the government's biggest allies, whether it's the DHS or a local police force. Claiming bad things will happen keeps bad laws and policies in place. As long as the laws and policies stay on the books and "bad things" fail to happen, officials are constantly "proven" right.

Citing these irrational fears also prevents these laws and policies from being struck down. There are very few government officials willing to roll back anything out of fear that if something bad does happen, the blame will rest squarely on those who removed the so-called safeguard.

Kelly's repetition of this argument is the most self-serving of rhetoric, seeing as it's almost completely failsafe. Should there be an uptick in criminal activity post-stop and frisk, the supporters will point out that they warned this would happen. It doesn't even have to be a large or sustained uptick. All it takes is a couple of random acts of violence to trigger the "I told you so" contingent.

It's a win-win argument, even at this point. As the appeals process rolls on, crime level fluctuations will be watched and deployed by stop and frisk supporters. If crime stays at its present rate or slides lower, it will be held up as evidence that unconstitutional searches work. If it heads up, Kelly, Bloomberg et al will claim the "uncertainty" surrounding the court's decision is impairing police work.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2013 @ 3:17pm

    "I'd like to hear from some minorities if that's OK with you, Kelly. I'd like to see if they're willing to 'trade off' a little bit of theoretical safety for the freedom to walk around without being judged as 'furtive' or 'suspicious' or 'not white.'"

    No, actually, I would NOT want to hear from minorities. (Or anyone else.) If most people who happen to have a particular skin color support an illegal program, that would not make that program OK.

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