Tearing Apart New York Top Cop Ray Kelly's Shameless Lies About the NYPD's Racist Policies
Continued from previous page
Never mind that in each of the city’s 76 police precincts, the race of those stopped highly correlates to descriptions provided by victims or witnesses to crimes. Or that in a city of 8.5 million people, protected by 19,600 officers on patrol (out of a total uniformed staff of 35,000), the average number of stops we conduct is less than one per officer per week.
Then those officers are quite efficient. The city has recorded more than five million stops since Bloomberg took office. Perhaps Commissioner Kelly is referring solely to this year’s numbers, which, as mentioned earlier, are down significantly, along with the murder rate.
Here is the New York Civil Liberties Union on the question of descriptions provided by victims and demographics:
Only 11 percent of stops in 2011 were based on a description of a violent crime suspect. On the other hand, from 2002 to 2011, black and Latino residents made up close to 90 percent of people stopped, and about 88 percent of stops – more than 3.8 million – were of innocent New Yorkers. Even in neighborhoods that are predominantly white, black and Latino New Yorkers face the disproportionate brunt. For example, in 2011, black and Latino New Yorkers made up 24 percent of the population in Park Slope, but 79 percent of stops. This, on its face, is discriminatory.
Racial profiling is a disingenuous charge at best and an incendiary one at worst, particularly in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. The effect is to obscure the rock-solid legal and constitutional foundation underpinning the police department’s tactics and the painstaking analysis that determines how we employ them.
“Rock-solid legal and constitutional foundation” is a phrase that may very soon come back to bite Commissioner Kelly in the ass. The NYPD, for the record, has made tens of thousands of arrests under laws that have been struck down as unconstitutional, dating from from well before Kelly’s tenure through last year. Were these arrests part of the department’s anti-crime strategy, or merely tens of thousands of isolated incidents? You can decide for yourself: “During a 16-month period ending in 2006 — more than a decade after the last of the provisions had been struck down — [federal Judge Shira Sheindlin] found that the police issued 10 improper summonses a week.”
In 2003, when the NYPD recognized that 96% of the individuals who were shot and 90% of those murdered were black and Hispanic, we concentrated our officers in those minority neighborhoods that had experienced spikes in crime. This program is called Operation Impact.
Operation Impact is a program that floods poor, high-crime neighborhoods with rookie police officers. The young, inexperienced officers are then strongly encouraged to write as many summonses as possible. As former NYPD captain and criminal justice professor John Eterno explains:
Pushing throngs of cops into high-crime neighborhoods, then demanding they meet targets for policing activity, turned into a recipe for sticking minorities with an overlarge share of summonses, Eterno maintains. “The policy is inherently racist,” he said. “What they are doing is going into some communities and blasting them for summonses for the same activities being done in white areas, for instance smoking marijuana or drinking a beer. Those kids are now getting a record.”
Because the NYPD arrests those who fail to pay for summonses or appear in court, a single pink slip for a minor offense can effectively criminalize an otherwise law-abiding citizen by leading to warrants, hefty fines, jail time and police records. “These tickets are not inconsequential. People say they are like traffic tickets, but they are not, said Harry Levine, a professor of sociology at Queens College. “They are much more like misdemeanors-lite.”