Data on the 203,500 street stops from January through March — up from 183,326 during the same quarter a year earlier — was sent to the City Council from 1 Police Plaza late on Friday under a legal requirement spawned by public outrage over the 1999 fatal police shooting in the Bronx of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black street peddler.
On Saturday, the department disclosed the information to reporters and credited the controversial topic known as “Stop, Question, Frisk” as one of several policies of engagement whose effectiveness was vindicated by a decline in homicides in New York.
So far this year, 129 people have been murdered in New York through Friday, the 132nd day of the year, a number that put the city on track for a new low in annual homicides. The 471 murders logged by the Police Department in 2009 was the lowest annual tally for any previous 12-month period since reliable numbers were kept in the early 1960s.
Still, the new street-stop numbers got a fresh round of criticism after a week that saw civil libertarians and prospective mayoral candidates debating the crime-suppression value of such stops and blaming the tactics for tearing at the fabric of city life, particularly in minority neighborhoods, during a period of historically low violence.
On Wednesday, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued a study of last year’s stop data, arguing that far too many innocent people were suffering under the policy. The study said that while young black and Hispanic men made up 4.7 percent of the city’s population, those between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of stops in 2011.
Driving while black. Walking while black. Whatever you want to call it. It is real.
Interestingly, police department officials claim it is saving lives. Check the data and see for yourself.