This is an excerpt from the chapter "What The War on Drugs Became":
“Stop and Frisk in NYC”
Here’s one analogy I use to describe foot traffic on the streets of New York for those who have never been. I ask them to imagine taking everyone out of their cars on the highways in LA and putting them all on the street or on the subways. With that visualization, It makes sense to me now that in New York, the “war on drugs” would be declared against people on foot—enter “Stop and Frisk.” The data below on stop and frisk is staggering, far beyond what I could have ever imagined:
“An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 5 million times since 2002, and that Black and Latinx communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. (NYCLU, 2019) At the height of stop-and-frisk in 2011 under the Bloomberg administration, over 685,000 people were stopped. Nearly 9 out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent. (NYCLU, 2019)
According to the NYPD's Annual Reports:
In 2019, 13,459 stops were recorded.
8,867 were innocent (66 percent).
7,981 were Black (59 percent).
3,869 were Latinx (29 percent).
1,215 were white (9 percent).
In 2018, 11,008 NYPD stops were recorded.
7,645 were innocent (70 percent).
6,241 were Black (57 percent).
3,389 were Latinx (31 percent).
1,074 were white (10 percent).
In 2017, 11,629 NYPD stops were recorded.
7,833 were innocent (67 percent).
6,595 were Black (57 percent).
3,567 were Latinx (31 percent).
977 were white (8 percent).
In 2016, 12,404 NYPD stops were recorded.
9,394 were innocent (76 percent).
6,498 were Black (52 percent).
3,626 were Latinx (29 percent).
1,270 were white (10 percent).
In 2015, 22,565 NYPD stops were recorded.
18,353 were innocent (80 percent).
12,223 were Black (54 percent).
6,598 were Latinx (29 percent).
2,567 were white (11 percent).
In 2014, 45,787 NYPD stops were recorded.
37,744 were innocent (82 percent).
24,319 were Black (53 percent).
12,489 were Latinx (27 percent).
5,467 were white (12 percent).
In 2013, 191,851 NYPD stops were recorded.
169,252 were innocent (88 percent).
104,958 were Black (56 percent).
55,191 were Latinx (29 percent).
20,877 were white (11 percent).
In 2012, 532,911 NYPD stops were recorded.
473,644 were innocent (89 percent).
284,229 were Black (55 percent).
165,140 were Latinx (32 percent).
50,366 were white (10 percent).
In 2011, 685,724 NYPD stops were recorded.
605,328 were innocent (88 percent).
350,743 were Black (53 percent).
223,740 were Latinx (34 percent).
61,805 were white (9 percent).
341,581 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
In 2010, 601,285 NYPD stops were recorded.
518,849 were innocent (86 percent).
315,083 were Black (54 percent).
189,326 were Latinx (33 percent).
54,810 were white (9 percent).
295,902 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
In 2009, 581,168 NYPD stops were recorded.
510,742 were innocent (88 percent).
310,611 were Black (55 percent).
180,055 were Latinx (32 percent).
53,601 were white (10 percent).
289,602 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
In 2008, 540,302 NYPD stops were recorded.
474,387 were innocent (88 percent).
275,588 were Black (53 percent).
168,475 were Latinx (32 percent).
57,650 were white (11 percent).
263,408 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
In 2007, 472,096 NYPD stops were recorded.
410,936 were innocent (87 percent).
243,766 were Black (54 percent).
141,868 were Latinx (31 percent).
52,887 were white (12 percent).
223,783 were aged 14-24 (48 percent).
In 2006, 506,491 NYPD stops were recorded.
457,163 were innocent (90 percent).
267,468 were Black (53 percent).
147,862 were Latinx (29 percent).
53,500 were white (11 percent).
247,691 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
In 2005, 398,191 NYPD stops were recorded.
352,348 were innocent (89 percent).
196,570 were Black (54 percent).
115,088 were Latinx (32 percent).
40,713 were white (11 percent).
189,854 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
In 2004, 313,523 NYPD stops were recorded.
278,933 were innocent (89 percent).
155,033 were Black (55 percent).
89,937 were Latinx (32 percent).
28,913 were white (10 percent).
152,196 were aged 14-24 (52 percent).
In 2003, 160,851 NYPD stops were recorded.
140,442 were innocent (87 percent).
77,704 were Black (54 percent).
44,581 were Latinx (31 percent).
17,623 were white (12 percent).
83,499 were aged 14-24 (55 percent).
In 2002, 97,296 NYPD stops were recorded.
80,176 were innocent (82 percent).
NYCLU's most recent detailed analysis of stop-and-frisk data and practices can be found in our 2019 report, "Stop-and-Frisk in the de Blasio Era."
About the Data:
Every time a police officer stops a person in NYC, the officer is supposed to fill out a form recording the details of the stop. The forms were filled out by hand and manually entered into an NYPD database until 2017, when the forms became electronic. The NYPD reports stop-and-frisk data in two ways: a summary report released quarterly and a complete database released annually to the public.” (NYCLU, 2019)
Here are the things that jumped out at me from the data. From 2002 to 2014, no less than 80% of the people stopped and frisked were innocent, 88% on average until 2013. It’s interesting to me that when the numbers of people searched went down, the percentage of people that were not innocent went up. Perhaps that’s an indication of the lawsuit in about 2012, where they were forced to be more careful about who they actually stopped.
Unfortunately for African Americans, in every year of stop and frisk, over 50% of the total population searched each year was black. Perhaps even more disheartening is that from 2017-2019, when the frisk totals were near their lowest, the percentage of African Americans increased to 57% up to 59% in 2019. In no year did the percentage of whites stopped exceed 12%.
According to the 2010 decennial census, 33% of New York City residents are white, 26% are Hispanic, 26% are black, and 13% are Asian. (Furman Center, n.d.) I’m not great at percent problems. They gave me fits on the SAT. But looking at the stop and frisk data tells me that though blacks made up 26% of the population, the same percentage as Hispanics, their stops made up, on average, about 55% of the total stops.
A closer look shows that even though blacks and Hispanics had equal population percentages, the percentages of stops for Hispanics never exceeded 32%. I have so many questions about that. One question deals with the consistency of the percentages over the years. I have taken several statistics classes. It seems statistically impossible that the percentages could stay within 2% of the yearly average for each ethnic group year after year. The concept of statistical process control is a term in statistics that would support the notion that a “process” was being duplicated year after year. It would almost seem that there were unwritten targets.
Another thing that doesn’t make sense to me about the Hispanic numbers staying consistent is that many Hispanic men in New York look “black.” These men, whether they were Cuban, Dominican, etc., could easily be mistaken as black by appearance. So how could the Hispanic population never vary in any year more than one or two percent if some of these darker-skinned Latin people could be mistaken as black?
Earlier I cited Harvard economist Roland Fryer’s research published in Forbes. According to the New York Police Department’s data, blacks “are more than fifty percent more likely to have an interaction with police which involves any use of force.” This data is “from New York City’s ‘stop and frisk’ program.” (Sullum, 2016)
“Since encounters with cops in New York and other cities frequently involve searches for contraband, the drug laws offer young black men many more opportunities to be manhandled by the police than they would otherwise have. In New York blacks are much more likely to be stopped than whites, and when they are stopped they are substantially more likely to be roughed up. The vast majority of these stops—nearly nine out of 10—end without an arrest or summons. As Fryer notes, the cumulative effect of such incidents, especially when no evidence of criminal activity is discovered, can be poisonous:” (Sullum, 2016)
“Poisonous” is the word Fryer chose to describe the combined effect on black men being stopped disproportionately and “manhandled” more frequently. (Sullum, 2016) If you were a black man living in New York during the peak of stop and frisk, when hundreds of thousands of black men were being stopped, or even now when stops are approaching 60% black, six times that of whites, why wouldn’t you think that the police system is racist? If you were a white person experiencing the police system during that time, why would you think that it was?
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish