NYPD Releases Disturbing Stop-and-Frisk Statistics
The Fourth Amendment restrains the ability of police officers to stop and detain the people they encounter. Unless the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, the Fourth Amendment usually prohibits a detention. To frisk the detainee, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and dangerous.
New York City police are apparently a suspicious bunch, given the number of stops they made last year. They're particularly suspicious of black people.
The New York Police Department released new information yesterday showing that police officers stopped 508,540 individuals on New York City streets last year — an average of 1,393 stops per day — often searching them for illegal weapons. The number was up from 97,296 in 2002, the last time the department divulged 12 months’ worth of data. ... The raw data showed that more than half of those stopped last year were black: an average of 67,000 per quarter.
Given the department's ugly history, transparency in its interaction with the public is important. Until yesterday, the department had stalled the (still incomplete) release of statistical measures of its citizen encounters.
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