The NYPD, Fighting Crime Big and Small

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang, talks about Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's "clarification" of NYPD policy regarding marijuana arrests and her earlier reporting on the controversy. And Eugene O'Donnell, professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice discusses police chief Ray Kelly's 60 Minutes revelation that the NYPD can shoot down planes.


Ailsa Chang and Eugene O'Donnell

Comments [65]

Tom LI.

To John. I support many of your points and your difficult job - but for me the bottom line in this issue is simple, and its not a one liner. Are we ultimately supporting the stopping of random people simply to see if they are guilty of anything..? Are the majority of Beat Cops truly qualified to profile any random person on the street and do it correctly?

Now matter how you slice it, profiling is real. It may not be based on race - but it may be on other imperceptible prejudices on the part of the PO's.

I find it difficult to support a practice that is basically a random target attempt to see if an individual is guilty of something. Left their ID at home, etc...perhaps a vial of Rx, but no label on it?

Tired cliche - it's a Slippery slope. And one that takes a long time for anyone to truly see the grade of the slope. Downhill can be fast, or slow and imperceptible...same results.

Sep. 28 2011 06:19 PM
john from Bronx

I am sad to see many of my comments misunderstood. Misd. and violation marijuanna arrests are a valuable tool in policing. That being said, I am not advocting illegal searches. The problem arisies when individuals produce marijuana during a stop. When this happens what is the officer to do? Ignore it? While a summons could be issued, often times it it is not because of identification issues. The real problem however is the continued "handcuffing" of the police. None of these policies (SQF or Quality of Life) are racially targetted. Unfortunatley the most violent areas of are city are not ethincly diverse. When zero tolerance actions are taken in high violence locations, the residents of that area will be affected. If those residents are from a minority group then policies will effect that group more than others. My real issue however is that the drastic sea change recently seems to have produced the violence spike we are now dealing with. If you do not want to get arrested do not carry weed or a gun. The minor inconvienence from a police stop may be annoying to you, but it may prevent someone else who sees it from carrying a gun. Lastly, marijuanna on a personal level is not a serious crime, but the number of homicides and shooting that are related to the marijuanna trade is enormous. Every time you buy weed you are supporting this viloent trade.

Sep. 28 2011 12:24 PM
Cindy from Patchogue, NY

I thought that having/using pot was illegal in New York state; yet on the show this was totally downplayed. It seemed as if the police department was being targeted for arresting people who were in posession of this illegal substance. I don't get it.

Sep. 28 2011 03:46 AM
DTorres from Nathan Strauss Projects

Marijuana arrest is a useful tool for
keeping minority youths in check.
Try living in a housing project,
where minority youth dominate.
They have no jobs, no education,
little prospects and they know it.
They make life impossible for everyone
else, by robbing, assaulting, mugging
Not all of them, but enough so that
any reasonable person, that is in
a vulnerable position, alone, has
to wonder if they are going to be
assaulted when they see a minority

In NYC, minority youth are the
ones committing the street crimes..

Sep. 28 2011 03:23 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Just heard the end of the section on Kelly's memo on the rerun. So it's just that they won't arrest people for pot found in a stop-&-frisk? There's nothing about reducing the no. of the searches themselves, w/no reasonable suspicion? Brian, could you do a Follow-Up Friday on this?

Sep. 28 2011 12:31 AM

I'm glad to hear it's not stinger types, imagine an office building rooftop AC on a hot summer day, or the reality of lots of them. The IR signature might be too close for comfort.

How many guns?

How quickly can they be deployed?

If it is a "light plane" they're worried about, what's their max size/type for which they're planning?

Compared to a jumbo, a large bizjet is still a "light" plane, but can be packed with lots of fuel and more dangerous materials.

Sep. 27 2011 05:58 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Brooklyn

The 4th issue about the police in the last week was reported by the Daily News yesterday. Police in the Ticket Fixing Scandal using epithets about African Americans. This systemic racism in NYPD explains the stop and frisk policy and much more.

Sep. 27 2011 03:31 PM

@J.W. from ct

If this cop had only had a helicopter-mounted .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle!!

Think of the efficiency!!

Sep. 27 2011 12:41 PM
J.W. from ct

"Update: NYPD sources told the NY Post that the anti-aircraft resource Commissioner Kelly referred to is a .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle that can be mounted to police helicopters and that's only used for "special occasions." .50 caliber rounds can be used to stop boats and cars, but would likely be limited to smaller planes in the anti-aircraft capacity Kelly was referring to"

I read this ^^ yesterday on the gawker websites. It should have been part of the discussion on air. least you all know now. k thx bye!!

Sep. 27 2011 11:55 AM

And you Mr. CheeseWiz, are a rocket scientist.

Sep. 27 2011 11:53 AM

Thank you Mr. Chizzelwitz.

Sep. 27 2011 11:48 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan


You are a tedious little boy....and obviously not very smart or well-educated.

tsk, tsk.

Sep. 27 2011 11:23 AM

Watch yourself!!


God Bless Amerika®!!

Sep. 27 2011 11:06 AM

jaggerbutts... still PSYCHOTIC!!

Sep. 27 2011 10:44 AM

it's so funny, walking down the street, everyday i can find people driving and talking on their cell phones. countless deaths have been caused by this action, but the NYPD doesn't try stop it.
they waste money arresting poor people just to empty the high schools.

Sep. 27 2011 10:43 AM
John A.

Yosif from Manhattan,
What you say is more the business of the District Attorney's Office, what most likely cost Spitzer his job, and a worthy topic for regular coverage on WNYC.

Sep. 27 2011 10:42 AM
Sabrina French

Brian, I am depressed at the light (and one-sided) coverage you gave to the police tactics at the Occupy Wall Street rally. Who will cover police overreach and abuse if not your program. And you didn't do it today. I hope you return to this CRITICAL subject. Remember the preventative arrests during the Republican Convention in NYC??!! Free speech and the right of assembly vs. police abuse. Important,no????

Sep. 27 2011 10:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Giuliani and Bloomberg made this city safe and governable, but the criminal element, and leftists who give them solace, always are working back chaos. They thrive on chaos and disorder, and to his credit, Bloomberg is like a jewish mother who wants to keep his city safe and healthy. I don't always like his nanny style, but I'd rather be safe than sorry, because I've been sorry! And I don't want to be sorry again.

Sep. 27 2011 10:38 AM
chris from Astoria

@ John the cop !
You're totally out of line , sir!
It's that the way NYPD fights crime by violating some elementary social rights, in many cases , in black and latino communities?
If that's the case then all the so called " freedom" in american democracy can go down the toilet! And NYPD as a police force is no different than a repression force in a totalitarian type of state ! Your excuses in enforcing this type of law are lame! Cops should take a hard look on themselves before complaining of a low moral. They should " protect and serve" !

Sep. 27 2011 10:38 AM
Joe from West Village

In regard to the mace incident commented on, it was not "in the wall street area." I was there and these people were acting peacefully. The girls maced in that video were doing nothing but standing in their "pen." Who gave the police the right to enclose people in pens anyway? I have seen other protests where police have used nightsticks etc. without provocation. The NYPD abuses it's power and usually causes any tense situation during protests.

Sep. 27 2011 10:37 AM
Tony from Downtown Brooklyn

There's a decrease in crime that officer John attributes to searches that are most likely illegal. However there is one "benefit" to stop and frisk being applied almost exclusively to men of color in predominately poor neighborhoods. That benefit is white neighborhoods represent a control group.
Therefore if crime decreases on the Upper East Side where the police wouldn't think of using stop and frisk, then it disproves the causation that Officer John attributes to this illegal(and discriminatory) practice.
Of course this benefit to assessing efficacy by no means justifies the discriminatory application of police policy. Nor does it excuse this usually excellent program from even raising the issue of the discriminatory application of stop and frisk.

Sep. 27 2011 10:36 AM



What the HELL is going ON!!!

Sep. 27 2011 10:36 AM
Keith from NYC

I think you are misreporting the police ability to shoot down a plane. As reported, the plane would need to be stationary on the ground, not in flight and it would need tto be a small plane not a commercial one.

Sep. 27 2011 10:35 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Those who are bad mouthing the cops today, should have lived in this city in the 1970s and '80s. and experienced a few muggings, as well as the l seedy and crime-drenched experience that it was then, when people fled to their homes at dusk out of fear of being on the streets.

Such people are too young to know, or weren't in this city in those terrible, terrible years. I DO NOT WANT THOSE YEARS TO RETURN in my old age. I appreciate peace and quiet and relative safety.

Sep. 27 2011 10:35 AM

teachers have up to 50 or more kids in their classrooms.

thousands of cops have nothing left for thousands of cops to do other than bust people for having pot in their pockets and train to shoot rockets at planes.

can we retrain the cops to drop their egos and teach?

Sep. 27 2011 10:35 AM
Yosif from Manhattan

You would think the cops would be busy with the crimes of wall street instead

Sep. 27 2011 10:35 AM
John A.

I'm really not on board for the normalization of marijuana in daily life. That having been said, having a 1-2 "trick" ("empty your pockets","OK, Now you're arrested") is just cheap stuff, indefensible with current law, and will have to generate new law.

Sep. 27 2011 10:34 AM
benjoya from what was once USA


Sep. 27 2011 10:34 AM

Those women were DOING NOTHING!!!




Sep. 27 2011 10:34 AM
Carly from East Harlem

With respect for the officer who called in, he frequently referenced marijuana possession as a "quality of life crime/violation". How does someone else having marijuana in their pocket affect my quality of life? Smoking it in the open (or even cigarettes) maybe, littering or causing a public disturbance sure, but simply having something in their pocket is not a quality of life crime.
I wonder if these "smaller issues" are more useful in regard to meeting the unofficial arrest quotas many officers are expected to meet......

Sep. 27 2011 10:34 AM
pete from uws

It's so funny how the NYPD always has to absorb the mayor's screw ups: stop blaming the cops for the mayor's reactionary policies (a la RNC '04)

Sep. 27 2011 10:34 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Just being in the vicinity where a crime is committed is a legitimate reason to be searched? Is it really routine to search everyone who's on the scene when the police arrive?

And on pot being found when the police tell someone to empty their pockets, don't people have the right to refuse a search unless they're already being arrested? What happens to someone who refuses to empty their pockets--what are their rights, & what actually happens w/the cops?

Sep. 27 2011 10:32 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I trust the NYPD to defend New York City more than I trust the Pentagon. And those closest to the incoming threat are best positioned to counter it quickly.

Sep. 27 2011 10:30 AM

Has anyone ever thought about how much money is wasted on the drug and terror wars? sure they create jobs, but think about the other stuff, like education, we could be spending money on.

Sep. 27 2011 10:30 AM
Andy B. from New York

Oh great- we can't even get cops to obey traffic regulations and now the police wants the power to shoot down civilian airliners in certain cases?

Absurd. Police need to concentrate on getting the basics right on the street level, and stop watching so many Bruce Willis movies.

Sep. 27 2011 10:29 AM
Brian from Nyack

What about studies that show drop in vilolent crime is tied to the decision Roe V wade and legalization of abortion. He keeps carping causality but sites no real info

Sep. 27 2011 10:28 AM

Sure, arrest young kids for smoking weed and put them in the pen so they can hang out with, and learn from, the exact opposite kind of people that we want them hanging out with.

Sep. 27 2011 10:28 AM

I CANNOT believe we are STILL having a conversation about grass.

Who cares!?!?? REALLY?!?!??!

Please... PLEASE decriminalize and get ON with it!!!

It's NOBODY'S business if someone else want to get high!


I don't even smoke!!!


Sep. 27 2011 10:28 AM
Monica Behney from Astoria, NY

I just tuned in at 10:16, but whoever said there is public support in communities with high crime for stop and frisk is WAY off. I just attended Think Outside the Cell's symposium on incarceration and reentry issues at Riverside church this past Saturday and stop and frisk was much discussed as one of the most hated policies and biggest problems in the city. Manhattan Borough President the Hon. Scott Stringer talked about it at length, including sharing the facts that only 7 percent of stops resulted in an arrest and that 85 percent of people stopped were black or Latino. It's a racist, ineffective policy that makes it harder for police to prevent crime and it needs to end.

Sep. 27 2011 10:27 AM
Robert from NYC

It's not the job of the NYPD to take down planes. It's up to the armed forces who should be on alert to be prepared to do it immediately upon request. It's just not the job of the NYPD to take down planes!!

Sep. 27 2011 10:27 AM
Ted Sod from New York City

The cop keeps talking about marijuana and it's relationship to violent crime -- where is that statistical data coming from? 50's public service films? Reefer madness? Crack, yes. But marijuana blisses people out -- how can its use be seriously held accountable for violent crime in NYC?

Sep. 27 2011 10:26 AM
Jon from Astoria

Brian, can I call your show and rant with no facts to back me up like the cop John? Crime is down in Westchester as well, as well as, surprise, ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. It's not because cops are illegally busting stoners. If anything, that causes more ill will and throws more kids into the meat grinder.

You didn't even challenge him on his statement that "These kids pull out pot, and they get arrested". It's infuriating to hear lies go unchallenged.

Sep. 27 2011 10:26 AM

So basically, the officer is proposing arresting people because they cant produce their "papers"...really

Sep. 27 2011 10:25 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I wish the cops had arrested me back in the '60s when I was smoking dope, and given me a month to reflect, because all it did was cause me to waste good time that could have been better spent in more productive venues. It was fun at the time, but quite wasteful of it as well.

Sep. 27 2011 10:25 AM

NYPD SELECTIVELY ENFORCES. And it's ridiculous. Being a person with friends on the force, I can tell you not only do they selectively enforce marijuana laws, but they hypocritically do.

Sep. 27 2011 10:24 AM
Ron from New Jersey

Your criminal justice expert failed to point out to the caller or otherwise that the drugs are not being displayed in the open when the victim is compelled to display them by the police. If the law is written and enforced that way, it is complete nonsense and a subversion of the decriminalization of possession of small amounts.

Sep. 27 2011 10:24 AM
Paul from New York, NY

Amen to the officer! Why do people fight to protect the idiots that decide it's smart to carry around an illegal substance?

BTW... an Academic study cannot ever prove anything definitively. So that's a convenient argument to hide behind.

Sep. 27 2011 10:24 AM

Sorry, officer, I disagree. One of the reasons marijuana arrests are through the roof is because crime is way down. Hey, cops gotta arrest someone - right? Can't have statistics go too far down otherwise cops will be laid off. It is a fact that cops stop (usually) young (usually) men of (usually) shades of brown. And after being stopped for no good reason they are then falsely encouraged to produce mj. Arresting anyone for possessing a small amount of mj DOES NOT make us safer. So cut the BS officer.

Sep. 27 2011 10:23 AM
Billy Gray from Greenpoint

Really? Letting people smoke a joint on the street will unleash unimaginable, untamable violence that the police can't handle?

Has he met any pot smokers? Is he joking?

Sep. 27 2011 10:23 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I have two boys: a 16 year old and a 15 year old. I ABSOLUTELY DON'T want people openly smoking dope on the street!

What are we stupid??? Aren't there ENOUGH bad influences for kids nowadays? Don't we have any idea of the possible effects on some kids? (And how many kids are already at risk?? Have you seen the drop out rate in the city??)

Sep. 27 2011 10:23 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

Shouldn't we be clear that what's at issue hear is the ILLEGAL fishing of concealed weed by cops? If the weed is legally exposed, then that's not what we're talking about...

Sep. 27 2011 10:23 AM
ben from williamsburgh

It's also interesting that the choice of neighborhoods are focused on minority community, but somehow avoids neighborhoods like Park Slope and Williamsburg.

Sep. 27 2011 10:22 AM

oh right, weed smokers are going to unleash a wave of violence. Please! This caller is the type that I'm afraid of; not weed smokers.

Sep. 27 2011 10:22 AM
Robert from NYC

Where is he seeing less crime? Where does he live? I see and hear of crimes left and right and this administration saying it's gone down yet the reporting of crime is up. Explain that. No one is blaming the cops for doing their job but why aren't they handling the bigger crimes! That's what's being questioned.

Sep. 27 2011 10:21 AM

The cop's argument is so flawed. He wants to justify violating the rights of those stopped and frisked by pointing at "overall reductions in crime," despite that those busted for marijuana possession were not in the commission of any crime until being forced to display it by the police.

For the record, I don't smoke. I don't have any desire to smoke pot, but I think our culture is so out of whack to villainize the substance so incredibly.

Sep. 27 2011 10:21 AM

making up laws, shooting planes out of the skies

the problem sounds simple.

the cops did too good of a job and now they have to make stuff up!

happens in every business where you have increased efficiency.

Sep. 27 2011 10:21 AM
Andy B. from New York

Buy and bust is a very good tool in the police arsenal to nail bad guys who are doing muggings and serious violent crimes.

Same with stop-and-frisk.

Otherwise, you are depending on getting witnesses from the neighborhood who are too scared to testify against the bad guys.

Sep. 27 2011 10:20 AM

Beware of any caller who begins his comment with, "very quickly". This last guy confirms that this was not going to be the case.

Sep. 27 2011 10:20 AM
Robert from NYC

Killing is against the law Kelly, there are gang wars going on in my mom's neighborhood near Lincoln Hopital every week almost someone gets killed and there are no police doing anything about that. What an idiot.
You know Marco this ain't a competent police department, that's the problem. They're tough in soft situations. Where are then when things really get tough.

Sep. 27 2011 10:18 AM

Wait, the NYPD can shoot down planes? After all the unarmed people they've shot over the years are you sure that's a good idea?

Sep. 27 2011 10:13 AM
rose from brooklyn, of course

what ticks me off is that this has been happening for the longest in the city and specifically in the outer boroughs.

It only became an issue when majority of the people being arrested were white and their complaints were no longer ignored.

Sep. 27 2011 10:12 AM
Stanley Conrad from Hell's Kitchen

These arrests weren't "unnecessary." That's being a bit too generous to the NYPD. The arrests were inappropriate, arguably illegal.

Sep. 27 2011 10:10 AM
marco from New York

Typical left-wing snarky comments here. New Yorkers should be grateful they have such a competent police force. After thousands of deaths they should know that terrorism is no joke.

Sep. 27 2011 10:10 AM
Stanley Conrad from Hell's Kitchen

These arrests weren't "unnecessary." That's being a bit too generous to the NYPD. The arrests were inappropriate, arguably illegal.

Sep. 27 2011 10:09 AM
N. Credulous from with Cheney in an undisclosed location

ummm, ok. I'll ask the obvious question: these geniuses shoot down a plane and it crashes.... where?

Sep. 27 2011 10:04 AM

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