Proportionate Stops?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Your calls on Mayor Bloomberg's comments about the intersection of race and "stop and frisk." Plus Graham Rayman, staff writer for the Village Voice and author of the forthcoming The NYPD Tapes: A Shocking Story of Cops, Cover-ups, and Courage (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), discusses Mayor Bloomberg's recent comments about the proportion of stops as related to crime.

→ Bloomberg's Full Remarks: "There is this business, there's one newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying, 'Oh it's a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group. That may be, but it's not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little."

Listen: Full Bloomberg Remarks on Stop, Frisk, and Race

Comments [62]

RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Another howler from Mayor Mike...

First, he peddles the myth that the recession was caused by people getting loans that should never have qualified - 90% of sub-primes were cash-out refi's and second homes/investment properties, he now connects stop and frisk to crime stats! Sheesh! With logic like that, how did he become a billionaire?

Strength in one area doesn't necessarily imply strength in all areas I guess. Here's the takeaway for the Mayor - should he or an aide read stuff posted here - If you raise lower class incomes, you will lower violent crimes.

Jul. 02 2013 05:42 PM
DTorres from Manhattan

Stop and search:
Home secretary launches consultation on police powers
Home secretary tells MPs black people
are seven times more likely to be
searched on the street than white people

Jul. 02 2013 05:34 PM
Nicola from New York

OK, so with Bloomberg's logic, if a victim says "some man" robbed me, ALL men on the street should be stopped and frisked. It is the job of the police officer to ask for a more detailed description. Therefore, if a victim says "some black man" robbed me, all black men should not be stopped. But they are and the police need to be reminded of their duty to be more specific, not go on a fishing expedition while humiliating and dehumanizing entire communities. So, when a victim does not give a thorough and detailed description, maybe further investigation is needed BEFORE an 95% of the innocent Black and Latino males are stopped on the street. This will also make the police officer's jobs easier since there is less tension and more cooperation when proper procedures are followed. Bloomberg is encouraging gestapo-like dragnets which are deeply harmful to the families of those innocent young men stopped and frisked as well the communities they live in.

Jul. 02 2013 01:22 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Claudia, great comment about your son.

I am white and I was stopped a few times in my wilder youth in my gritty neighborhood by cops who obviously had some swagger to them and puffed up egos. And I felt a bit resentful, so the emotion isn't unique to contemporary NYC urban youth.

But, please tell your son that the world isn't perfect, that we have to endure these annoyances in life and shrug them off.... and that the correct response in that moment is the one my father embedded in me ..."Yes, sir" and "No,Sir".
Disarm them with your innocence. You win.

(At least they didn't have swastikas on their armband as they did with my grandfather's relatives.)

Jul. 02 2013 11:45 AM
shaneeza from Brooklyn

Ummm ... What an asshole!

Maybe giving the wealthy every advantage in this city, rather than invest in low income and working class neighborhoods is why crime still persists in this city. I understand we need to keep the higher tax bracket here, but it's not okay to neglect the majority of people struggling to survive in the city - and then - accuse them of being criminals.

Jul. 02 2013 11:19 AM
Claudia from Co-op City

Your guest hit the problem with Mayor Bloomberg's statements right on the head. The statistics that was not quoted by our soon to be former Mayor was how many of the people of color stopped were stopped because they fit an actual description, how many murders and killings have ben solved in these neighborhoods and how many violent crime suspects have ever been caught using stop and frisk as practiced in these neighborhoods? I am the mother of a 16 y.o. Afican American boy and Im a lawyer. I have been prepping him on how to deal with the police in case he is stopped since he became 5'3" -- he is now 6'6" . Fortunately he has never been stopped, but I am afraid for his life if he did get stopped by the police due to his size! We live in a working class neighborhood with good and bad elements. It is unfortunate that most boys like my sondont feel safer by the presence of a police officer, they just feel afraid to move.

Jul. 02 2013 10:58 AM

Mayor Bloomberg has always had an atrocious record on civil liberties. People will remember the 2004 Republican National Convention when scores of innocent protesters, and more than a few innocent bystanders, were rounded up and detained by the police. The charges were eventually dropped in the vast majority of those cases. The mayor was as defensive about that fiasco as he is now about stop and frisk.

Jul. 02 2013 10:53 AM
Amy from Manhattan

1. The percentage of crimes committed by 1 group is not the same as the percentage of that group who commit crimes (the "denominator problem" Brian mentioned?).

2. When I see or hear a report in the media that police are looking for a suspect, the description almost always includes more than age, race, & sex--they'll also mention dark/light skin color, height, build, head/facial hair. But these more specific characteristics don't seem to be used by police to narrow down which people they stop. Police should first prompt witnesses for more detailed descriptions & then stop only people who match those details. (That's assuming they only make these stops when there's been a specific crime, which from what I hear often isn't the case.)

3. Whether or not the drop in crime is actually caused by the increase in stop-&-frisks, that doesn't mean that doing hundreds of times whatever an appropriate number would be is necessary or helpful.

4. It's not just the stops themselves, it's the way the police treat the people they stop--threatening, contemptuous, disrespectful, when the great majority of them haven't committed a crime. Why do police think this is helpful? It certainly doesn't help relations w/the community.

Jul. 02 2013 10:49 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Ray "Bull" Kelly. Michael "George Wallace" Bloomberg...
As usual, we give these people too much credit.

Jul. 02 2013 10:40 AM
Roy from Queens

Good intentions, bad effects...and I'm an African-American male who has NEVER been stopped and frisked.

Jul. 02 2013 10:37 AM
The Truth from Becky

"Good Policing" my Aunt Fanny.

Jul. 02 2013 10:37 AM
impressed by washington ave teen

Just wanted to say I was impressed by the young woman from Clinton Hill who just called in at the end of the segment. She was a good spokesperson, and only 15 years old!

You seem to have a lot going for you — good luck in the future.

Jul. 02 2013 10:36 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

It's really a shame. That all the hard work done by the NYPD and many regular New Yorkers to keep this city safe, will be judged by this ineffective and mostly illegal tactic.

Jul. 02 2013 10:35 AM
RCT from NYC

This incredibly bright and articulate kid is pointing to the real problem: the policy may be based on statistics, but the police are racist. It's the underlying suspicion and dislike of minorities that turns serving the public into harassment. The minority citizens of our City are not being served, but rather harassed.

Jul. 02 2013 10:35 AM

15 year old caller is wise beyond her years.

Jul. 02 2013 10:34 AM
The Truth from Becky


Jul. 02 2013 10:33 AM

I'd like to see the numbers broken down by precinct instead of just by race.

Jul. 02 2013 10:32 AM
black socialist from BKbaby

that Hispanic guy admits to being stopped countless times (hundreds?), and doesn't see it as a problem. a necessary evil to rid the streets of guns. really? how about targeted searches, how about flooding the streets with cops? how about the cops embracing people in the community, and talking to them? .... pathetic

Jul. 02 2013 10:32 AM

I believe that the hispanic caller who lived in 3 boroughs is misguided. Now that he's not being stopped, it's a "necessary evil" for those guys that are still there. A myopic opinion at best.

Jul. 02 2013 10:31 AM

I believe that the hispanic caller who lived in 3 boroughs is misguided. Now that he's not being stopped, it's a "necessary evil" for those guys that are still there. A myopic opinion at best.

Jul. 02 2013 10:31 AM
Doreen from Queens

Can you Brian clarify what a 'violent crime suspect' even means? If the person is a suspect and then is found to be innocent, surely this persons race should not be included in these statistics?
Also why is race the only criteria reported on here? In countries and cities where everyone is the same race, there is still crime!? - the suspects are more likely to be from a working class area. I don't understand why class is never mentioned as it is much more a deciding factor as to whether you will end up being a criminal or not, than your race. It happens to be in this city that the minorities are the ones living in the lower class, depressed areas which I think is why the race statistics play out as they do.

Jul. 02 2013 10:31 AM
Joyce from NYC

Brian --

So few stops produce guns because the bad guys know they will be stope so they don't carry guns!!!!!!!!!!!

Jul. 02 2013 10:30 AM
John M Colon from Asbury Park, NJ

Aren't a massive number of stop-and-frisk essentially small-time drug busts? You know, for pot and such?

If you were to stop any number of white, bespectacled college students in Morningside Heights and frisk them -- or spoiled brats in a Long Island suburb, for that matter -- how many of them do you think would be carrying the same thing? How many of them ought we to throw in jail?

Guns are different, obviously, but I'm skeptical of the police's ability to take guns off the street in any systematic fashion without legislation.

Jul. 02 2013 10:30 AM

Bloomberg's statistics aside, whether manipulated or not, the risk of abuse of this police tactic is way too high to justify its means. On the federal level, a law that targets a class or a race on its face requires that law or regulation to be narrowly tailored to serve its purpose in order to mitigate the opportunity for overt racism or classism. This simply does not meet that standard.

Jul. 02 2013 10:29 AM
steve from queens

I have three things to say that I would hope would sooth some of the tension over this policy and the mayor's remarks which on the face seem somewhat insensitive:

1. years ago, in the 90's, I was having a conversation about the stopping and frisking of minorities with a police officer. this is what the officer told me: "what are we supposed to do? if we get a call about a crime and the perp is described a certain way, we have to look for someone who fits that description. to look at others would be a waste of time."

2. I was talking about this debate with a now retired NYPD officer just last week. He worked in Washington Heights and he told me "if you were white and had NJ plates I you got stopped. I don't care if I saw you do something wrong - I can find a reason. But if you were white in washington heights, you were there to buy drugs and I stopped you."

3. I was on a bicycle in the south bronx. i am as white as the paper in my printer. the police stopped me and demanded to know why I was riding a bike in the south bronx. I was able to take out my business card and show them that I worked nearby and was on my way home.

Jul. 02 2013 10:29 AM
Joyce from NYC

So we will be have a federal monitoring of the police because our murder rate is too low.

Also NYC police shoot people at 1/2 the rate as do police in other cities.

But are the Feds monitoring the Wash police??? The New Orleans police???? The St Louis police????

NOOOOOO -- they have the right amount of murders!!!!!!

Jul. 02 2013 10:29 AM
Karla from Manhattan


You have lost all credibility with me on discussing this subject. You purport to have a conversation about the truth of the statistical argument made by the Mayor, and you don't have a statistician or mathematician as a guest. Instead, you have a reporter who is neither a statistician or a former police officer. Give me a break. Ask a police officer the question of whether the stops are based on descriptions or other indicia. When you do that, I will be able to take this "discussion" seriously. Otherwise, this "discussion" is nothing more than a perpetuation of the manufactured outrage displayed by the "activists" and politicians of all stripes. By the way, I a woman of color.

Jul. 02 2013 10:28 AM
Chem from NJ

Racism hurts everyone!!! Stop and Frisk skews perspective and leaves all of us open and vulnerable to a false sense of security.... Gabriel Giffords was a victim of racism... If only there wasn't this world wide expectation of criminality being a majority non-white problem...If Loughner was a black man... he never would have been in a position to commit his crime... from Wikipedia: "On January 8, 2011, at 7:04 a.m. MST, Loughner went to a Walmart store in the Foothills Mall to purchase ammunition, but left that store and completed his purchase at a Walmart on North Cortaro Road at 7:28 a.m.[47][59] He was stopped by an Arizona Game and Fish Department officer at 7:34 a.m. for running a red light, but once the officer determined there were no outstanding warrants for Loughner, he was allowed to proceed to his destination with a warning to drive carefully.[17][47] Loughner took a taxi to a Safeway supermarket location in Casas Adobes, where Rep. Giffords was holding a constituents meeting.[47][60] The shooting occurred at 10:10 a.m. MST.[61][62]"

Jul. 02 2013 10:27 AM
Barbara Aubrey from Upper west side

Perhaps if all the Wall Street crooks were brought to justice the "statistics " would not be distorted. It seems to me if you commit a crime that causes a world wide depression, produce drugs that kill people, pollute the air that causes many respiratory diseases, you get away with it. Most of these companies are run by white males. While Some poor black kid is considered a vicious criminal. What is wrong with this picture. I am a white middle class female and am more afraid of white business men and what they can do than I am of the kids that live north of me.

Jul. 02 2013 10:26 AM
john from office

Brian, where do you live??

I grew up in the "hood", it is dangerous and blacks and browns do serious crime. White guy doing coke in his loft is not hitting you over the head for your Iphone.

Let not forget the No Snitching attitude in the "community"

Jul. 02 2013 10:26 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Duh. It's a rhetorical device. Bloomberg's point about proportions is objectively true. But it does not at ALL address the biggest problem with SAF, which is the NUMBERS.

So cops should stop members of groups fitting what description exactly?...

Bloomberg and Kelly's reckless, ignorant, acontextual rhetoric and actions do more damage than his money could ever undo. Maybe they spout this nonsense so freely, because they know that many of their ilk are thinking and saying the same thing behind close doors...

Are Kelly and Bloomberg the new Connor and Wallace? Poster children for the new racial aggression, fueled by his vast resources...

Jul. 02 2013 10:25 AM
dsimon from Manhattan

Proportionality is not the relevant number regarding whether stop and frisk is constitutional. Say 90% of crimes were committed by red-heads. That proportion could come about if only 20 crimes in a year were committed: 18 by red-heads and 2 by non-red-heads. So if the crime rate was that low, randomly stopping red-heads in significant numbers is going to produce almost entirely stops of innocent people.

The number that may be relevant isn't the percentage of crimes committed by a certain group; it's the percentage of a certain group that commit crimes. The former number simply has nothing to do with the individualized reasonable suspicion required for a constitutional stop.

Jul. 02 2013 10:25 AM
Robert from NYC

As long as there are quotas we should not believe the statistics we're given because they're based on these quotas force false arrests.

Jul. 02 2013 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The liberals destroyed New York in the late '60s though the early '90s, and now they are at it again after Giuliani and Bloomberg finally set this city back on track.

But there is no question that there is an INORDINATE fear of blacks amongst whites and others, and I know that most of this fear is psychological and based on false perceptions. Having grown up the housing projects, and still living in majority black neighborhood even today, I know what is the real deal. I am saying that such suspicious are totally groundless, but way OUT OF PROPORTION to the truth. Most of my suburbanized liberal friends are wary of coming into my neighborhood because it is majority black, but I personally have had no problems or fears, unlike when I was growing up in the projects back in the '50s when the gangs and criminal elements did run the roost amongst what was in effect an impoverished "black immigrant" group that immigrated to the north from the segregated south. And I suffered from it. But those days are gone. But there has to be intelligent and pro-active policing by cops on the ground who know who is who and what is what.

Jul. 02 2013 10:24 AM

Crime statistics are irrelevant to stop-and-frisk (albeit a legitimate issue in its own right).

If you look like a suspect or are acting suspiciously, why do the police need some special stop-and-frisk program to professionally and respectfully approach you? As if cops had no license to do that sort of thing in the course of duty before stop-and-frisk came along.

But who can possibly believe, given the numbers of people stopped under the program, that it's anything but broad-based, largely racial profiling being employed to stretch any reasonable definition of what counts as *reasonable* search and seizure? As Mr. Lehrer just reported, only 5% of stops resulted in a summons. This is cast a broad, indiscriminate net, and a pretty flagrant attempt to get around the 4th Amendment. Didn't you take an oath of office, Mr. Bloomberg? Unreasonable Search and Seizure is in the New York State Constitution as well.

If you don't like the 4th Amendment, make your case, but don't pretend that a high percentage of the stops being justified by Bloomberg and this program aren't clear instances of unreasonable search and seizure. If you think they've resulted in crime prevention, that's true, at best, only if you ignore the fact that they represent a huge cache of unreported crime committed by law enforcement.

Jul. 02 2013 10:22 AM

(Or an African-American FATHER of BOYS who cares for them on a daily basis)

Jul. 02 2013 10:21 AM
Phil Smith from Brooklyn

Stop and frisk isn't about stopping people as a result of a description. Let me repeat that: STOP AND FRISK ISN'T ABOUT STOPPING PEOPLE AS A RESULT OF A DESCRIPTION. Why isn't this mentioned???

Jul. 02 2013 10:21 AM
Instead of arguing


Put on an African-American MOTHER of BOYS. Otherwise it's just defensiveness, ignorance or bias. But I would deeply listen to mom.

Jul. 02 2013 10:20 AM

Three points:
1- Black suspect IS NOT equivalent to black perpetrator.
2- If I stop 90% of whites and get a "large" hit rate, I cannot conclude that whites are commiting most of the crime an that data alone.
3- Even if there is a bigger proportion of minority offendors, focusing on "stop and frisk" ignores the larger socioeconimnc issues and almost implies that minorites are incorrigble.

Jul. 02 2013 10:19 AM

Three points:
1- Black suspect IS NOT equivalent to black perpetrator.
2- If I stop 90% of whites and get a "large" hit rate, I cannot conclude that whites are commiting most of the crime an that data alone.
3- Even if there is a bigger proportion of minority offendors, focusing on "stop and frisk" ignores the larger socioeconimnc issues and almost implies that minorites are incorrigble.

Jul. 02 2013 10:19 AM
J. from NJ

I'm not offended by Bloomberg's statement. However, based on his logic, any encroachment on privacy and liberty is justified if the goal is to reduce crime. The logical path of that approach is that all black people of a certain age should be stopped if it would reduce crime, the police should be able to go into anyone's house without a warrant if that would reduce crime, the government should be allowed any and all access if the goal is to reduce crime. Most people who have any education in history, not math, know that those in authority with power, abuse power--and that freedom and free societies have risk, but that is part of being a free society.

Jul. 02 2013 10:19 AM
Jade from nyc metro

What really offended me was the way WNYC treated this. The commercials for today's Brian Lehrer show that were played this weekend were inflammatory, strongly implying that Bloomberg's comments were not based on an interpretation of numbers, but merely his prejudices. I'm always up for arguing over the interpretation of the stats, or even whether proper data is being collected. You could've played a longer clip, or wrote your copy to give it more context. What you did was worthy of a tabloid, not an NPR station. Shame on you.

Jul. 02 2013 10:19 AM
Robert from NYC

Does anyone hear what this man is saying? You have to go out and find people who fit the description of people who commit crimes. Try that again and listen to it and absorb it. What does someone who commits crime look like?
HUH-LOW! This 50 yo 6'1, black man got it right!!

Jul. 02 2013 10:18 AM
Ben from Manhattan

I think the real issue is the 10% success rate of the policy. If 50% of all stop and frisks resulted in a summons or arrest, no one would be complaining about the race of the individuals being stopped. It is because 90% of those stopped are innocent of anything, that this has become such an issue.

Jul. 02 2013 10:18 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I have no patience for violent crime. I don't believe in PC policing.

It's beyond a fact that, with regards to urban gun crime, the vast majority of the perpetrators and their victims, tend to be of color, in neighborhoods of color - hence, the majority of stops and arrests, will be of men of color - so far so good. (Mind you - you can swap in poverty for color and get the same stats but that's another story.)



Jul. 02 2013 10:18 AM
black socialist from BKbaby

I love how Bloomberg, when making his arguments, never suggests that the crime is located in certain areas. Having gone to the federal trial in lower manhattan and listening to the random accounts of illegal searches suggests that he has no idea what he is talking about..... and marty and john, you two clowns should swallow some pills.

Jul. 02 2013 10:17 AM

Police officers are given quotas. they have do crazy things to meet the numbers.

Jul. 02 2013 10:17 AM
Joyce from NYC

Brian -- safety is not an ABSTRACTION

There are 2,000 people LESS per year killed in NYC compare to 20 years ago.

Jul. 02 2013 10:17 AM
Josh Karan from Washington Heights

The Mayor is right.

Because most bad stuff done by white folks is LEGAL.

Not too many people of color nearly crashed the world economy, overthrew elected governments, engaged in whole spying (Obama & Holder, excluded), have off-shore bank accounts, etc.

Why aren't their offices "frisked", so that the actions of these "perpetrators", which cause serious harm to many more people, are "stopped"?

Jul. 02 2013 10:16 AM

Why is NYC obsessed with race!

Jul. 02 2013 10:15 AM
Ric Brown from Washington Heights

Oh come on Brian. You have a degree in public health and you know that his use of statistics was deeply flawed. Why don't you speak yourself as someone who understands stats and not facilitate the misuse of social scientific research. You could at least have a sociologist on to explain what even the NYTimes says is the Mayor's flawed logic. Very disappointed by your approach to this.

Jul. 02 2013 10:14 AM
Kim from Brooklyn

Typical of Bloomberg: he arrogantly says he "doesn't know where they went to school" because his opponents don't know math; shall we call Bloomberg's education into question because he keeps saying "disportionate" as if that is a real word??

Jul. 02 2013 10:14 AM
Brooklinda from Brooklyn

"Disportionate" is not a word.

Jul. 02 2013 10:13 AM
Joyce from NYC

The question is what are the crimes committed by race????????????

Let's have the facts.

Jul. 02 2013 10:13 AM

(On that note, what are the statistics for minority-on-minority gun crime? I'm guessing that this sharp comment is as simple as that particular stat, combined with the total number of those crimes, has been haunting the mayor.

Given the lack of action or awareness on gun safety -- even after Newtown, Bloomberg is probably willing to pull any arrow out of his quiver at this point to, as they say, "spark a national dialogue.")

Jul. 02 2013 10:12 AM

The fact that the mayor doubled down on his phrasing of the comment and became defensive shows how completely out of touch he is about this. His comment makes it sound like cops should actively be targeting minorities simply for being minorities because statistics makes them more likely to be criminals. If that's not what he was saying, he should apologize and clarify. If that is what he was saying, he should resign.

Jul. 02 2013 10:11 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

He should stop and frisk more Wall Street bankers. But generally speaking, the policy has to be carried out in the areas where there is the greatest amount of crime, especially where the percentage of murders and armed robberies are greatest.

Jul. 02 2013 10:10 AM
Robert from NYC

LOL Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan, you should do standup on Fatty Limbaugh's show. LOL

Jul. 02 2013 10:10 AM

If Bloomberg is lying, then he must flog himself in Times Square.

If it's true, then Bloomberg is brilliant and his opponents are stinky sock monkeys. Looking forward to hearing this matter quantified.

Jul. 02 2013 10:07 AM
Robert from NYC

The mayor has and has always had more than a denominator problem!! His problem is that is has to have his way and does whatever he has to do to get it, regardless of the consequences to others. The development in this city during his administration has be disproportionately for the top 10% and he's done very little to help the poor or financially lower middle class not only with social programs but with programs to help those groups help themselves get out of "the" hole. And yes, I do believe he pays people to get his way.

Jul. 02 2013 10:06 AM
john from office

Mayor Bloomberg will be missed. I would vote for him again if I could. Because he is a lame duck Mayor, he can now speak "truth to power" as the comunity would say. Most crime in New York is concentrated in specific areas, that are not the upper eastside nor the upper westside nor Bayside Queens. These areas are made safer, for the vast majority of good people there, because of stop and frisk.

Ask yourself why a child or a teen even has a gun or acccess to a gun, where are the parents!! Where is the outrage over that?? I fear John Liu's New York, it would be NYC in the 70's.

Jul. 02 2013 09:36 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Bravo, Bloomberg!

He said what we all know and don't want to admit.... even white self-righteous lefties .... that these groups commit the vastly disproportionate amounts of crime and gun offenses...(blame THAT on whatever makes you feel better.)...and usually against each other.

But, hey, instaed of restricting good policing, let's stop an equal number of smug, paunchy, white middle-aged liberal yuppies in Park Slope or Tribeca ... or gay white men coming from their gym in Chelsea ... so we all feel better!!!!

Kinda' like the TSA body searching little old ladies at the airport so they can't be accused of profiling Islamists. (Fairness before community safety, folks!)

Jul. 02 2013 08:44 AM

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