Listen to Rookies’ conversations with Bronx residents and their frank meeting with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in the audio above.
Five Radio Rookies walked the streets of the Bronx recently to learn more about how residents of the borough, which is 90 percent black and Latino, interact with the police.
Earlier this month, a WNYC investigation revealed that prosecutors in the Bronx drop almost a quarter of all cases if a victim isn’t interviewed within 24 hours after an arrest. This happens in part because the victims don’t cooperate.
Some Bronx residents said they don’t talk to law enforcement out of fear of retaliation. But Radio Rookies found in their roughly two dozen interviews with residents of the Bronx that stop and frisks have also soured relations with police.
A Ghanaian immigrant in the West Bronx said police pulled him over in his car and accused him of talking on the phone. He said he was then frisked by police.
"They used force and twist my arm, so I said, 'Woah! Officer why you doing that for?'" he said.
Later, he said they threw him to the ground and charged him with resisting arrest.
Police in the 44th precinct in the West Bronx use force during stop and frisks more than anywhere else in the city, according to a New York Times report.
When Rookies sat down with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly he said crime has gone down 80 percent over the last two decades and that stop and frisk is one tactic that has helped bring the rate down.
When pressed about police interactions with the public, Kelly said "the best thing for a person to do when being stopped is cooperate. Accept it as a fact of urban life. It overall is helping to keep New York City safe."
Kelly said that being a police officer is a tough job.
"We teach officers to interact with people with courtesy and respect," he said. "I believe most officers certainly strive for that but it's important to keep your eye on the big picture."
Kelly was asked if he gives equal importance to protecting the city and maintaining a good relationship with its people.
"We’d love to have a great relationship with people but sometimes because of the decisions that we make, the things that we have to do, people may not be happy with the police," Kelly said.
Radio Rookies Temitayo Fagbenle, Veralyn Williams, Ephraim Fromer, AJ Frazier, Bree Person and Vikky Cruz contributed reporting
Radio Rookies is a New York Public Radio initiative that provides teenagers with the tools and training to create radio stories about themselves, their communities and their world.