Compstat Nypd Stop And Frisk Essay

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The New York Police Department should use stop-and-frisk like a surgeon’s scalpel, not a blunt ax.

Vice President, Fortune Society
Long Island City, Queens June 11, 2012

To the Editor:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg claims that the low rate of gun seizures shows that the stop-and-frisk policy “saves lives” by persuading criminals to leave their guns home out of fear of arrest. But focusing only on gun seizures in stop-and-frisks obscures a larger reality: the New York Police Department seizes thousands of guns each year by other means, and those means are far more effective than stop-and-frisks at keeping people safe.

In 2011, the N.Y.P.D. made 684,330 stops and seized 780 guns, a rate of 1.1 guns per 1,000 stops. But the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reported that the N.Y.P.D. submitted 3,980 crime guns for tracing through the bureau’s system in the same year.

The simple math shows that 3,200 guns were seized by means other than stop-and-frisks, four times more than were seized in street stops. By allocating police resources to inefficient stop-and-frisk tactics instead of using tactics that have higher public safety payoffs, the N.Y.P.D. is missing out on a substantial number of gun seizures.

By leaving guns on the street, New Yorkers are still at risk of being shot: the 1,821 shootings in 2011 are only slightly fewer than the 1,892 shootings in 2002, when fewer than 100,000 people were stopped.

The seizure rate of about one-tenth of 1 percent and the persistence of shootings show that the police are looking for guns in all the wrong places.

New York, June 11, 2012

The writers are, respectively, a professor of law at Columbia and a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

To the Editor:

Put aside that there is no evidence — none — that New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy saves lives. If the New York Police Department stops and frisks people to deter crime, rather than based on reasonable suspicion that the person stopped is engaged in crime, the stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional.

The Constitution limits police power, to protect our personal liberty. It would probably deter crime to beat suspects bloody on the street. Would Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg add that tactic to his “saves lives” stump speech?

New York, June 11, 2012

The writer is class counsel in Floyd et al. v. City of New York, the stop-and-frisk class action case.

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