NEW YORK — The head of the NAACP said Sunday that even some members of the New York Police Department oppose the city’s policy of street stops, with mostly minorities being questioned.
Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told the congregation of the Nazarene Congregational Church in Brooklyn that the civil rights group is hearing from its members who are NYPD officers.
Addressing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was not present, “I ask you, before you leave, repair the damage you have done,” Jealous said from the pulpit. “Kids in this city are too afraid of the very people who have sworn to respect and protect them.”
At his State of the City address several days ago, the mayor “felt the need to evangelize what he sees as the value of the stop-and-frisk program,” Jealous said.
He said his speech Sunday was intended as a direct response to the mayor’s “fear-mongering.”
The NYPD’s practice of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking hundreds of thousands of people on city streets each year has received widespread criticism. Officials say the technique deters crime. Critics say the stops intimidate innocent people and raise issues of racial profiling.
There’s “no statistical relationship between stop-and-frisk and New York City’s steadily dropping crime rate,” said Jealous, adding that there’s “increasing discomfort among the rank-and-file of the NYPD about this policy.”
Police officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on the remarks by Jealous, leader of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
But Bloomberg spokesman John McCarthy said that under the mayor and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, New York City is the safest big city in America.
“In New York City fewer young men are being killed or shot and fewer are going to jail than ever before — and that’s a record of accomplishment that we intend to continue until Mike Bloomberg leaves office,” McCarthy said.
As Bloomberg’s third, and last, term nears its end in January, Jealous said he expects the city’s new mayor to oppose stop-and-frisk tactics, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Democrat announced recently that he’s working to help stop the practice.
If the new mayor doesn’t do that, too, Jealous vowed that “we’ll do a lot more than march.”