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Sen. Eric Adams: NYPD Commissioner Told Me Cops Use Stop-and-Frisk to Instill Fear in Youths of Color

Adams said policing must move away from quotas and terrorizing young people, and toward preventing harm.

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“They felt emasculated,” he said, adding that the moment provided him with the realization of “What we are doing to these kids."

“When young people are afraid of gangs, and afraid of the police, they feel trapped. It’s not fair and it’s not right,” he said.

“When we look back on this years from now,” he told reporters, “we’re going to feel really bad as adults that we did this to these children.”

Reining in the NYPD

Adams stressed to reporters that the September 11 World Trade Center attack had a profound effect on policing in the city. “We gave our police department more power," he said, adding that “With power should have come oversight.”

He said adding an Inspector General to watch over the police department could be beneficial because “someone has to be there to say no," providing as an example,“No, you can’t go in a mosque where people are worshipping.” (Last year, a series of reports from the Associated Press revealed that the NYPD was spying on Muslims outside of their jurisdiction, and even hired an informant to snap photographs inside mosques where citizens worshipped.)

Adams also said that involving member of the community in anti-violence strategies could help to keep them safer.

“One of the other tools we could use to deter crime -- one that’s proven successful -- is community based crime-fighting,” he told AlterNet, adding, “Young people want to be a part of making their communities safer.” He lamented that many grassroots groups like Man Up and Save Our Streets were defunded last year.

Adams also said that policing must move away from quotas and toward “preventing harm.”

“As a cop, we want to catch bad guys,” he said, adding “That’s why we wear the shield.”

Nonetheless, Adams told reporters that reforming policing tactics, and stop-and-frisk in particular, is difficult. “The people responsible for enforcing the law are not obeying the law.”

He said Commissioner Kelly is “Out of touch with people in the communities,” and that “Until individuals on Wall Street have to tell stories about their children being stopped [we will not] see a change in this policy.”


Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne