Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One hundred and forty people are arrested for minor drug offenses every day in New York City. WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang reports on a WNYC investigation into whether the high rate of marijuana arrests could be connected to the City's stop-and-frisk policy - and to illegal searches by the police. 

See a map below of Stop and Frisk arrests.


Ailsa Chang

Comments [30]

CT from Princeton NJ

this is brilliant. it has long bothered me that so many of my well-off professional friends (actually of all races, though disproportionately white) blithely smoke pot as a leisure activity when the same activity is used as a major lever of the state against poor communities, and a major source of fuel for the prison-industrial complex in terms of feeding poor, male and disproportionately minority people into the jails.

i am so excited to see this report and congratulate chang on exemplary journalism on an important issue surrounding us every day that has gone underinvestigated! i hope she wins an award!

May. 20 2011 10:35 AM
roman stoad from manhattan

Once again, the Brian Lehrer show manages to discuss NYC issue which has institutional racism written all over it, without ever mentioning the world racism. The streets of the Lower East Side are filled with drugged and drunken youth on any given night, especially weekends, hanging out in large crowds and disturbing the peace. Don't see much stopping and frisking going on, because they are primarily white. NYC is a racist city, the media chooses to disguise this by altering the terms of the conversation.

Apr. 29 2011 03:32 PM
DTorres from Nathan Strauss Projects

It wasn't so long ago, that NYC, was
gripped in a state of fear.
Remember the era of Bernie Goetz?
The cops are doing a good job on
keeping the lid on.
Don't carry marijuana on your person
and there shouldn't be a problem.

Apr. 27 2011 01:14 AM
nyc4sanity from Brooklyn, NY

Congratulations to WNYC for covering this important story. And good job Brian for having Alisa on. The story of marijuana arrests in NYC is a scandal that has been going on for years and while I doubt this will fix the problem (Marijuana arrests are great for filling quotas!), this is the kind of investigative journalism we need more of. Thank you.

Apr. 26 2011 06:34 PM
Jaged from Manhattan

RBC, My post was just to clear up the perception that Stop and Question is some program created by the NYPD. I won't argue that there have been abuses of SQF, but these studies never seem to detail any information related to the marijuana arrest. Is the arrest the result of a stop or due to an officer observing a individual smoking. If it was due to a stop what was the Officers reason. If an arrest is made the PO will have to articulate the reason for the stop to the ADA.
If you are doing the studybyou need to present more detail.

Apr. 26 2011 03:54 PM
Stella from NYC

A few years ago I was called for a grand jury (drug cases) stint. After just one day, it was clear what was going on.
The large majority of cases were low level pot busts of young "minority" males. In quick succession, the cops came in and gave their version of the arrest. The accused spoke only at their own risk, lest they inadvertently incriminate themselves and said something which the prosecution would certainly use against them in a trial. (In 10 days, only two took this chance.)
After three days, I was so disgusted, I went against the judge's admonition to "dress with respect" and began wearing jeans and a Bob Marley t-shirt (yes, he was smoking), in hopes of being sent home. It didn't work.
After that, I just voted against the prosecution every time, in protest. Not that it mattered, as all the grand jury needs is a majority vote.
The system is totally racist.

Apr. 26 2011 03:08 PM
RBC from FiDi

Jaged, that is how stop-and-frisk is supposed to work, but it just doesn't. To be stopped, the only criteria is to be a black and/or hispanic male outside of their own house. Just about every minority male I know has been stopped by the police, and these are all law abiding citizens.

John from office: Long before the "thug life" became attractive black people were subjected to unjust stops and searches by the police. Also, as I said before, you don't need to look like a "thug" to be stopped; all you need is a darker skin color.

Apr. 26 2011 11:40 AM
Jaged from Manhattan

I am a Police Officer and there seems to still be a misunderstanding of the "stop, question and frisk". The NYS Criminal Procedure Law as well the SCOTUS decision of "Terry v. Ohio" allows police to stop and question a person when they reasonably suspect a crime (felony or misd., NYS Penal law) is, will or has been committed. A frisk may only be conducted when when an PO believes he is in physical danger. A PO may frisk for a weapon/dangerous instrument and secure such. SQF is not a "program"; it is a lawful tool for Police to prevent crime.
As for the cost of a Marijuana possession arrest, violation or misdemeanor, the city is definitely expending more than it is taking in.

Apr. 26 2011 11:14 AM
h l from brooklyn

hey WNYC! why did you remove my comment? it seems you removed other people's comments. What's up with that? So we support your show, send money, and then YOU decide which comments YOU like better? I'm reposting so people can see there was no reason to remove. I believe you removed gregory and roger's comments as well!

Here's an example of what's going on w the NYPD (watch to the end):

Apr. 26 2011 11:00 AM
John B from brooklyn

Love how the cop caught her mistating the law. Then he wanted her to 'mention' that Stop and Frisk have led to thousands of lives saved. Ya, might wanna mention that.

Apr. 26 2011 10:44 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Mayor Kelly, oops. Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg' s future political ambitions require they keep "crime" rates low by any means necessary. Young black and hispanic men are easy pickins.

Apr. 26 2011 10:30 AM

How ‘Quality of Life’ turned Homeless New Yorkers into Criminals

Apr. 26 2011 10:29 AM

I believe Guiliani ruined the NYPD. They are out of control. It's pure racism. Watch this:

Apr. 26 2011 10:28 AM
JT from LI

I just wonder why no one has captured any of this with their cell phone. I'm sure some of the people that are stopped are out with friends or there are others in the area that could capture this. I guess the police would threaten to arrest the person trying to record the stop, but there must be some video out there.

Apr. 26 2011 10:28 AM
Martin from Astoria

(Theoretically speaking) Why isn't the officer who takes the pot out of a persons pocket the one who is committing the crime of public display?

Apr. 26 2011 10:27 AM
john from office

Brian, you are letting false statement be made. Few cops would risk their pensions for an Ipod or a few dollars.

Apr. 26 2011 10:27 AM
david Williams from ditmas park


if the officer brings the marajuana out of the "perp's" pocket...isn't the marajuana in the officer's possession.

perhaps a "citizens arrest" could be in order at that moment?

Apr. 26 2011 10:27 AM
stacy from Manhattan

Can someone explain how random bag searches in the subway are legal? The people being searched aren't doing anything suspicious. And if anyone were carrying a weapon, they could just turn around and walk to a different station, where the cops aren't searching anyone that day. Seems illegal and ineffective, and a pointless use of tax dollars.

Apr. 26 2011 10:25 AM
dan from Washington Heights

I had fallen asleep on an uptown A train at about 2am after a long day. Being an asian minority with a skateboard in hand I was oulled off the train, patted down and frisked. Eventually I was given a ticket "because of the Mayor's initiative for 'better living" for taking up too many seats on the train"

this has never happened to me in midtown when I was in a suit. I truly believe some profiling going on when I was stopped without any proper cause. At the end of it I was given a frivolous ticket which had nothing to do with why I was stopped. I contested the summons and the case was dropped.

Apr. 26 2011 10:25 AM
Fuva18 from Harlem

The connection between "broken windows" policies and the fluctuation of crime rates is a matter of dispute.

Apr. 26 2011 10:24 AM
Linda from Manhattan

If charges are dropped, do the arrests remain on the person's record?

Apr. 26 2011 10:22 AM
stuart anthony

I was stopped and frisked - in a way that you described that had to be illegal. It was in West Chelsea at night and the police were trying to track down a street drug deal. the cops who circling the neighbor had not seen the deal, but picked me up based on the description of the people involved. They threw on the hood of the police car, immediately started asking me where the drugs where, they went thru all my pockets and took everything out, made me take off my shoes, roll down my sleeves, and even looked in my mouth with a flashlight. When they didn't find anything - far from being apologetic that they had the wrong guy - they were furious - they wanted an arrest

Apr. 26 2011 10:21 AM
David Williams from ditmas park

wondering if the city "makes" any money from the tickets associated with marajuana. you mentioned how much is spent...but what is the net gain/loss?

Apr. 26 2011 10:21 AM
john from office

Bill you are spot on.

Apr. 26 2011 10:20 AM
john from office

The shame is that we are not talking about graduate students here, scholars, or innocent activity here. How about these young people getting away from this illegal, harmful activity. Lets make it cool to read and learning, not smoking pot.

Apr. 26 2011 10:18 AM

what is the law with searching a car? 3 youth (white 19 yrs old from bronx science with no previous charges of any kind) were stopped for speeding upstate and their car was searched.

Apr. 26 2011 10:13 AM
john from office

How about the culture change, the thug life loses its appeal and these young men stop dressing like thugs and smoking Pot. Pot does nothing for the black and hispanic community. It serves as another drain on those populations.

I would frisk them in a minute and by magic, there is criminal activity. Sorry no sympathy here.

Apr. 26 2011 10:13 AM
Bill from Manhattan

I am not a pothead and I don't carry illegal guns. I have no problem with any of this.
Thank you.

Apr. 26 2011 10:12 AM
Bobby G from East Village

It seems to me that the D.A. or maybe the Justice Department should be prosecuting those who violate the Constitutional protection of "the right of the people to be secure in their persons ... against unreasonable searches and seizures." This a much more egregious crime than holding a small amount of marijuana.

Apr. 26 2011 10:09 AM
Steven from The Bronx

I heard the piece on WNYC this morning.

It seems like the city owes an increased police presence to residents whose neighborhoods suffer from more violent crime, even if it brings more arrests for minor offenses with it. I'd be upset if I heard the Upper East Side was being overpoliced while people were dying from violence in poorer parts of the city.

In another vein, are we conflating the problem of illegal searches with a more general dislike of arrests for small amounts of marijuana because many of us would prefer that marijuana be legalized?

Apr. 26 2011 08:44 AM

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