A day after being excoriated by Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin for NYPD's “facially unlawful stops” and “deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights”, PD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was in full CYA mode. In a three page letter sent to City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Kelly proffered "new measures" that he claimed would reduce the number of illegitimate stops; however, as he failed to address the legitimacy of the stop-and-frisk program, his proposals can only be seen as an attempt to whitewash the illegality of the NYPD's unconstitutional harassment of innocent men of color.
And the critics of Mayor Mike Bloomberg's stop and frisk program immediately pounced on Kelly's pathetic excuse of a plan:
Critics of the Police Department, however, said that if the intent of the changes was to resolve issues raised by a lawsuit against the department, which Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court elevated to class-action status on Wednesday, they fell short. Mr. Kelly’s letter included no substantive policy change, said Eugene J. O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.Emphasis Mine
“It is being depicted as ‘a misunderstanding by the troops in the field, or nefarious conduct by the troops in the field,’ and not as, ‘We at One Police Plaza are searching our conscience and trying to find ways to make policy changes,’ ” Professor O’Donnell said. “It skirts all of the issues that were raised by the judge.”
Ms. Quinn, who disclosed the letter from Mr. Kelly, said that the steps were significant but that more must be done.
“With these actions today,” she said in a statement, “Commissioner Kelly and the N.Y.P.D. are taking an important step forward, however more must be done to significantly reduce the number of stops and to bridge the divide between the N.Y.P.D. and the communities they serve.”
More after the Kosschach Ink Blot
Commissioner Kelly's "new measures" to improve stop and frisk include:
1. a re-emphasis on an existing departmental order banning racial profiling;Obviously, if the NYPD actually implemented a ban on racial profiling, the stop and frisk program (S&F) would come to an end. As over 90% of S&F victims are young men of color, and over 90% of them are not charged with any crime as the result of being S&F'd, it is obvious that racial profiling is at the root of S&F. The defenders of S&F, especially Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly, deny that racial profiling is employed in S&F. Instead, they claim that S&F's are based on "reasonable suspicion", with "furtive movement" being the primary factor cited for generating a stop. Yet "furtive movement" is totally subjective, "in-the-eye-of-the-beholder" judgement. As tens of thousands of police officers, using the same subjective judgement, only S&F young men of color, it should be obvious to any rational person that this is the epitome of racial profiling - especially since the "reasonable suspicion" used by the NYPD in S&F is wrong some 90% of the time! Which raises the question - why isn't it obvious to Bloomberg and Kelly?
2. greater scrutiny of the work sheets known as UF250s that officers fill out after each street stop - the executive officer at each of the city’s 76 precincts will be in charge of auditing the forms;
3. development of a “quantitative mechanism” to pinpoint those officers who were the object of complaints from civilians over street stops.
When someone believes something to be true, it is often the case that they cannot be persuaded by facts that what they believe is simply not true. Bloomberg and Kelly believe that S&F is an effective crime fighting tool, often citing crime stats to bolster their arguments. But the thing about stats is that unless they are the result of careful analysis, the same info can be used to either prove or disprove a particular proposition. Both Bloomberg and Kelly believe that NYC's decreasing crime rate - especially the decreasing murder rate - over the last 15 years is a direct result of the S&F program. What they fail to realize is that their belief in S&F may be nothing more than an example of the logical fallacy known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc - correlation proves causation
two events that occur together are claimed to have a cause-and-effect relationship. The fallacy is also known as false cause. It is a common fallacy in which it is assumed that because two things or events occur together, one must be the cause of the other.Neither Bloomberg nor Kelly entertain the possibility that other factors maybe more directly responsible for the decreasing crime rate - such as the end of the crack epidemic or a change in attitude about criminal activity. They have made up their minds, and will simply not be confused by facts.
For example, take how Bloomberg and Kelly rationalize the disparity between S&F's and gun arrest:
In 2003, police recovered 604 guns as a result of 160,851 stops. In 2011, the Department conducted an additional 524,873 stops (for a total of 685,724), yet only 176 additional guns were recovered.Though this data could indicate that there is little if any correlation between S&F's and gun arrests, to the Mayor & the Commissioner it is proof that S&F has had the intended effect of keeping guns off the streets of NYC. By this "logic", however, if there were no gun arrest during S&F's, Bloomberg and Kelly would demand even more S&F's to ensure that there would continue to be no gun arrest during S&F's! Circular reasoning at it's finest. They also seem to be unaware of the fact that this is an inherently racist belief for it implies that if there was no S&F program, then young men of color would begin carrying guns. Instead, Mayor Mike doubles-down on his faith-based belief in S&F with an argument that can only be considered, at best, paternalistic:
Today Bloomberg defended stop and frisk, telling WNYC, "The NYCLU says the number of stops is great than the number of guns recovered. That's the point, they don't get it. Stops are a deterrent. It's the same reason we set up DWI stop points. This city used to be one of the crime capitals. We used to have more than 2,000 murders a year. Over the past ten years we have cut crime another 30 percent...90 percent of the murder victims in this city are black and Hispanic.”This belief that S&F prevents crime has been likened to the premise of the SciFi thriller "Minority Report":
In the Philip K. Dick short story Minority Report, the police use "precogs" to stop "precrime." In the NYPD, they use profiling to stop and frisk potential criminals before they break the law. According to the Times, police spokesman Paul Browne believes "the police were confident the tactic was stopping crime before it occurred." Newly analyzed data by The Center for Constitutional Rights suggests otherwise, but there's really no way to know for sure if you've stopped someone from doing something in the future, because we don't have precogs (yet).But that's just it. We don't have precogs who, if I remember correctly, were supposed to have 100% accuracy. As the accuracy of the NYPD is somewhere in the area of 10% (% of S&F's that lead to an arrest for any reason), why would anyone try to justify a program with an error rate of 90%? Hello Bloomberg and Kelly! That last question is for you two.
The truly sad aspect of the belief that S&F prevents crime is that it disallows for the possibility of implementing the only test to prove it's effectiveness - suspension of S&F to see if crime rates change. Without this control test, it is impossible to know if there is any correlation at all between S&F and crime rates. But sooner or later S&F will be suspended, either by court order or by a change of administration. Unfortunately, in the intervening time, there will be hundred of thousands more S&F's. I guess the only consolation is the knowledge that in the future, Bloomberg and Kelly will be seen as responsible for a racist, unconstitutional policing policy, even if their contemporaries are incapable of calling them out on it.