NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 18: New York CIty Police officers stand near a demonstration against the city’s ‘stop and frisk’ searches in lower Manhattan near Federal Court March 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images) | Getty
The New York City Police Department’s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic has so badly damaged some communities’ trust in police, according to a new study, that many young people won’t report violent crimes.
The Vera Institute of Justice conducted a survey of 500 men and women in five “highly patrolled” New York City neighborhoods– Jamaica in Queens, East Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York in Brooklyn, and the South Bronx–who were between the ages of 18 and 25, and who had been stopped by police at least once.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed, according to the report, encountered “an officer who threatened them, and 46 percent said they had experienced physical force at the hands of an officer.” Twenty-five percent said they’d been involved in a stop in which a cop has drawn a weapon.
An alarming 44 percent said they’d been stopped repeatedly by police officers–at least nine times. Some even reported being stopped more than 20 times. (Here’s The New York Times video profile of a young Brooklyn man stopped over 60 times.)
Only 29 percent of respondents said they’d been informed of the reason for being stopped.
Eighty-five percent said “illegal items such as weapons, drugs, or open containers of alcohol were never discovered during a stop they had been involved in”– which matches up with the NYPD’s own statistics. Eighty-nine percent of those stopped last year weren’t arrested or issued a summons.
All of these factors, the study finds, contribute to a lack of young people’s trust in New York’s finest. “Our main finding is pretty plain and simple: Stop-and-frisk is compromising the trust needed for public safety,” Jennifer Fratello, lead researcher for the study, told The New York Daily News.
Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said they believed their community did not trust the police. Only 40 percent said they’d be comfortable asking the police for help if they were in trouble.
Sixty percent said they would not talk to police even when they were the victim of violence.
The majority of those surveyed were black or Latino. In 2012, the NYPD stopped 533,042 people, 87 percent of whom were either black or Latino.
A federal judge ruled last month that the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk was unconstitutional and amounted to widespread racial profiling. She appointed a federal monitor to oversee the department. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says stop and frisk keeps guns off the street and saves lives, appealed the ruling.
The New York City Council also passed two bills last month to rein in the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk. One bill sets up the office of the inspector general, which will act as a watchdog over the department. The other bill makes it easier for New Yorkers to sue if they’ve been profiled based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation.