In an appearance last week on Fox & Friends, NYPD Police Chief Ray Kelly gave his exit interview; he’s leaving/being ousted by incoming mayor Bill de Blasio. Throughout the campaign for mayor—in-between Anthony Weiner news stories—much has been made of de Blasio’s criticism of the NYPD, most publicly the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy that allows NYPD officers to detain and search people with little probably cause that overwhelmingly targets Blacks and Latinos.
Last February the New York Post showed that around 90 percent of stop-and-frisk interactions were with minorities, but only 2 percent yielded an actual arrest. Looking at those statistics alone, it might seem to make sense to stop the practice. Yet what cops like Kelly suggest is to take a look at the larger picture of how the NYPD has been working in the city, of which stop-and-frisk is just a tool in their belt. From the interview, host Elizabeth Hasselbeck quotes NYPD stats that show a decrease in both murder and shooting incidents by over 20 percent, and that the murder rate has dropped almost two-and-a-half points per capita.
However, one data set that hasn’t moved since 2009 is the percentage of shooters and victims in New York that are either Black or Latino. The New York Daily News reports that during the first six months of 2013 74 percent of shooting victims were Black and 70 percent of those arrested as shooters were Black. Latinos have the second highest instances, with 21.5 percent of shooting victims and 25.4 percent of shooting arrests. Many of those in favor of stop-and-frisk say that perhaps the police aren’t targeting these communities enough.
Also, according to The Daily News, “the city is poised to end 2013 with the lowest number of fatal police shootings in four decades.” 2012 saw an usually high number of fatal police shootings at 16 (the closest higher year was 1998 with 19), but this year the total is seven. Thus, the question remains if Mayor Bloomberg and Chief Kelly were “unfairly” targeting a community as de Blasio claims or if, in fact, they were targeting these communities to save them from themselves.