An NYPD officer on why the strategy works
- Last Updated: 12:49 AM, May 13, 2012
- Posted: 10:15 PM, May 12, 2012
Stop-and-frisk, the controversial NYPD crime-fighting tool, is taking serious heat. Police brass are re-evaluating the tactic amid criticism the number of searches — 685,724 last year, up from 97,296 in 2002 — has exploded.
Critics claim the program unfairly targets young African-Americans and Hispanics, since they make up 41.6% of the stops. Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio last week demanded the strategy be scaled back, while competitor John Liu called for it to be scrapped completely.
Frank, a 20-year veteran patrolman in Manhattan and Brooklyn, says the Democratic candidates are wrong. Here is his take on how conducting “250s” — police jargon for stop-and-frisk searches — works on the streets:
There’s always been pressure to get the 250s, but now, over the last two to three weeks, they’re saying they want quality 250s, not quantity. The issue becomes how do you determine if it’s a quality stop?
If there’s a weapon that’s recovered or a person has been arrested before, OK. But on the flip side is, does the officer have reasonable suspicion? There’s supposed to be a furtive movement or a suspicious bulge. That is open to interpretation. There’s no way to stop only the guilty.
I read in the paper there were 685,000 stops, but I guarantee you that a quarter of those are the same people getting stopped again and again because they are known to be involved in gangs or drugs or whatever.
And those are the people who should be getting stopped. Just because they didn’t have anything on them doesn’t mean they aren’t carrying 10 minutes later.
I probably do about 50 of them a year. For a patrol officer, that’s typical. For specialized anti-crime units, that’s low. They probably do 10 times that number, but that’s all they do. They stop thousands. They are looking for specific people — known drug dealers. They get frisked frequently.
You go back 15-20 years ago, nobody filled out these reports. It wasn’t pushed.
Ten years ago they started filling them out more. In the last couple of years, it really became a form of measurement. You’re not doing more stops than before. It’s commanding officers beefing up their numbers to account for activity. They can’t measure it if you don’t write it down.
The NYPD didn’t increase stop-and-frisk. They increased the record keeping.
There was a robbery I responded to recently, and they put over a description of a suspect. Several blocks away a person was stopped, and he matched the description. And the victim identified him.
The majority are like that — they’re based on calls about crimes. Every time a robbery call comes over, anyone in that vicinity who matches the description is going to be stopped and they should be stopped.Follow @NYPostOpinion