With His Church in a Stop-and-Frisk Hotspot, Queens Preacher Backs NYPD Practice

A Queens preacher who has one of the largest congregations in the city is defending the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice — despite a poll released Thursday that shows a slight majority of New Yorkers oppose the controversial program.

Speaking on the Brian Lehrer Show on Thursday, Pastor Floyd Flake, former congressman and pastor of Greater Allen AME Church in southeast Queens, told WNYC that he backs the program because it is an effective method of getting guns off the streets.

“You need as many methodologies at work as possible,” Flake said. “You still need something like stop and frisk in order to try to drive some of this criminal element out of the community.”

His church, in Jamaica, Queens, is located in one of the city's stop-and-frisk hotspots.

Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found a slight majority of New York City voters disapproves of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies – and the opinions are divided along racial lines.

Overall, New Yorkers oppose stop and frisk 51 percent to 43 percent. White voters support the practice 56 to 39 percent while black voters oppose it 69 to 21 percent. Hispanics are opposed 51 to 42 percent.

The poll surveyed 1,093 registered voters by phone from June 6 to June 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Of the record-high 685,724 stops last year, the overwhelming majority — 87 percent — of those stopped were black or Latino.

Twelve percent of the stops resulted in an arrest of summons, and one in every 666 stops resulted in an arrest for possession of a firearm.

“I’m not arguing that stop and frisk is a perfect program,” Flake said. “I do believe there are some areas that need to be touched upon.”

Flake backed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed push to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view -- noting stop and frisks during which marijuana not in public view becomes in public view results in arrests.

“That is totally unconstitutional,” he said.