New Arrest Data Under de Blasio's First 6 Months Reveal a Racial Police Bias Similar to Bloomberg

Disappointing, but too early to say de Blasio has failed.

Photo Credit: bluehand / Shutterstock.com

In the first six months of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration, the New York Police Department made 117,336 misdemeanor arrests. More than 86 percent of those involved people of color charged with resisting arrest, petty theft, criminal possession of marijuana and other charges that fall under the "broken windows" policy.

In first six months of 2013, 117,104 misdemeanor arrests were made under Mike Bloomberg's administration, 87 percent of which included people of color. The figures between the two administrations are strikingly similar.

The numbers, released by the Police Reform Organizing Project, are a wakeup call for de Blasio, whose campaign sharply criticized Bloomberg and former NYPD Commissioner Bill Kelly's policing policies. The recent death of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by an NYPD officer after being arrested for allegedly selling cigarettes, has also put intense heat on the mayor.

That said, it's too soon to call de Blasio's police policy a failure. Any police system in America takes time to reform and is an almost Mission Impossible undertaking. And even if aggressive efforts are made to train officers in the area of community relations, it would take time to get the NYPD's 34,500 officers on the same page. The mayor has a big mess to clean up.

As AlterNet previously reported, the New York Daily News released data that revealed disturbing racial bias in how broken windows has been enforced over the past 10 years. Here are more details from that report:

In a first-ever breakdown of released summons statistics, the Daily News found that writing summonses is the most frequent activity conducted by the New York Police Department, surpassing felony and misdemeanor arrests combined. Since the "broken windows" policy—which means zero tolerance for small infractions—was implemented during early the 1990s, the number of summonses has increased exponentially. In 1993, 160,000 summonses were issued; in 2005, that number climbed to a peak of 648,638.

(While the number of summonses has fallen in recent years — 431,217 in 2013 and a 17% decrease so far this year—, it's likely due to the high number of "stop-and-frisk" stops that took place during that same time period.)

Most of these summonses were likely to be issued in black or Latino communities, according the Daily News.

As bad as these numbers are, they can't be pinned on de Blasio. And while the recent data released by Police Reform Organizing Project should be alarming, it shouldn't be used to paint the mayor or Police Commissioner Bill Bratton as Kelly/Bloomberg copycats on policing—at least not yet.

What these new figures should do is show the public that more pressure needs to be trained on the man who used his black son to say he'd end stop-and-frisk if he were elected. Mayor de Blasio needs to know we haven't forgotten about that. This new data should help jog his memory.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.

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