BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
While data from the NYPD shows that Stop and Frisk stops have dropped nearly 86 percent from last year, it also shows that this quarter’s numbers have gone up slightly from the final three months of Bloomberg’s administration.
The statistics also reveal that the racial breakdown of stops involving minorities has remained relatively constant, disproportionately accounting for 83 percent of all stops– a figure similar to that of previous years.
According to reports, under the new administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton, NYPD officers conducted 14,261 stops between Jan. 1 and March 31, compared with 99,788 in that span the same time last year.
During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio vowed to improve communication between the community and police by reforming the controversial policy, which many have argued unfairly targets minorities.
Though the data only represents stops from de Blasio’s first three months in office, leaders and civil advocates from Southeast Queens, a predominantly Black area, said that the numbers appear encouraging. Still, they feel that there is a lot of work to be done, especially in the disproportionate racial breakdown of stops.
“With the appointment of the police monitor, we are hopeful that this number decreases as we move on,” said Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton).
In January, Bratton told the media that he felt the Stop and Frisk problem has “been more or less solved.” But Richards disagreed, noting that while the numbers show a dramatic decline in stops from last year, it is still too early to make a presumption about the future of Stop and Frisk.
“We need to let this play out and look at the figures over time,” he said. “I think the Commissioner is coming from a good place, but it’s still particularly early in the de Blasio administration and too early to tell what the numbers are going to look like in a few months.”
Laurelton attorney Jacques Leandre similarly said he feels that the data appears to demonstrate progress, but like Richards, he feels there is still room for improvement.
Leandre’s law office has seen close to 150 Stop and Frisk cases, with minorities accounting for more than 90 percent of them. The attorney also runs a free workshop that educates the youth about the proper protocol in dealing with police officers during a stop.
“I’m happy that there is still focus and attention being paid the discriminatory Stop and Frisk policy and I am glad the discussion didn’t stop with the inauguration of our Mayor,” Leandre said.
“Although the numbers of stops have gone down, there are still some problems with police practices that continue,” he added. “The Stop and Frisk numbers are still racially disproportionate, so I think we still have a pretty long way to go in getting to where we need to be.”
While the data represents a decline in Stop and Frisk stops, it also shows that arrests for the low-level marijuana crimes have dropped more modestly and that marijuana possession arrests in the first quarter are higher than in the third and fourth quarters of 2013.
“The arrest numbers related to low-level marijuana possession has actually remained steady and it’s still very much racially disproportionate,” Leandre said. “So I think we still have a long way to go to make New York safe and just.”
Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @nkozikowska.