Photo credit: The Huffington Post
The controversial police tactic of stop and frisk isn’t necessarily a form of racial profiling, said Republican candidate for New York City mayor Joe Lhota on HuffPost Live on Thursday afternoon.
Since 2004, New York Police Department cops have conducted more than 4.4 million stops though only about 12 percent led to an arrest or citation according to a professor who’s researched the issue. Blacks and Hispanics — especially young men — make up roughly 87 percent of suspects stopped by police.
HuffPost LIve’s Marc Lamont Hill asked Lhota if he considered stop and frisk to be a form of racial profiling.
“No. No, I don’t,” said Lhota, who was a deputy mayor in Rudy Giuliani’s administration. “Some of it may be,” suggesting some officers might misuse their authority.
Stop and frisk has emerged as one of the most divisive issues in city politics this year. A federal judge ruled that the NYPD has administered it in an unconstitutional manner and appointed a monitor to rein in the police force so that individual rights are not violated.
The City Council, meanwhile, overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto on two bills aimed at reforming the questionable tactic. One law created a post in the police department for an inspector general, appointed by the mayor, to review potential abuses. The other law allows alleged victims of racial profiling to sue the police in state court.
Lhota’s Democratic opponent, Bill de Blasio, endorsed both measures and also said he’d replace Commissioner Ray Kelly if he wins.
Lhota, however, has called the laws unnecessary, because racial profiling is already against the law while stop and frisk was upheld in a 1968 Supreme Court decision.
“There’s no place in the city for racial profiling. Absolutely none,” said Lhota. “It’s a violation of federal law, state law and city law. And anybody who commits racial profiling should be disciplined in the most severe possible way.”
However, Lhota believes that police should undergo additional training on how to properly utilize stop and frisk as a tool and the public should be educated about what cops are permitted to do.
“If somebody is walking down the street and happens to be black, that is not a reason to stop them,” said Lhota. “If somebody is walking down the streets and their pants are hanging a little bit too low, that’s not a reason for it.”