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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.

“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.”

Emphasis Mine

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;

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.

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?

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.

Originally posted to OnlyWords on Fri May 18, 2012 at 01:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I thought this was fantastic... (8+ / 0-)

    Ray Kelly presented with the Bull Connor Award.... and he gets into a STRETCH HUMMER at the end.

    Humble public servants riding around in stretch hummers.  Agents of empire.  The foreign occupations have come home.  (especially if you are young and black)

  •  Just imagine if.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, bumbi, OnlyWords

    the NYPD was ordered to balance the S&F numbers by targeting rich old white men for a year.

    "11 dimensional chess" is a clever form of using magical thinking to obfuscate the obvious.

    by Zinman on Fri May 18, 2012 at 08:28:28 PM PDT

  •  They manipulate the crime statistics (6+ / 0-)

    so any claim of crime statistics being down in nonsense. They ignore and don't report real crimes. So sure, crimes are 'down' if you ignore them.

    I guess Kelly came out with this letter because his original response 'it is what it is' was so underwhelming.

    Love the 'redouble our efforts' routine - it didn't work the first time so let's repeat the same thing and see it not work again

    1. a re-emphasis on an existing departmental order banning racial profiling;

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Fri May 18, 2012 at 08:59:45 PM PDT

  •  Regarding that little matter of race: (6+ / 0-)

    I'm white, I'm male and I have lived in NY City over 30 years.  I have never been stopped and frisked by the police.  Not ever.  S & F is race-based.  Period.

  •  Well, they have to make NYC safe for (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, bumbi, soros, OnlyWords, TimmyB, walkshills

    all those Wall Street white boys and the tourists!
    I lived in NYC at a time when you could smoke a joint in the street or, heck, even in a movie theater in the smoking section. No one died. No one got hurt.
    Our nation is becoming a police state. And NYC, sadly, is at the forefront.
    I've said before that more cameras, more fancy equipment and racist storm-trooper tactics DON'T prevent crime.
    Bring back the flatfoot. Bring back cops on patrol who work neighborhoods as a beat, not as and occasional directive. Police are supposed to be US, reflect US, and they are supposed to treat US like members of their own families.
    But beside city politicians, professional police persons (of every strata) have failed miserably. Where the hell did they learn how to be police? Who is teaching them and who devises the curriculum?
    It's tragically amusing that the average American citizen is looked on as criminal, or potentially so, while those who are really robbing us are getting away with it.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Sat May 19, 2012 at 05:38:50 AM PDT

  •  A change of administration won't do it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bumbi, walkshills

    No one in power is willing to give up that power no matter how wrong it is.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sat May 19, 2012 at 05:54:39 AM PDT

  •  It ain't the stop and frisk. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib

    The increase in stop and frisk has done nothing to affect the murder rate.  It continues in slow decline, which is good.   You have to give Kelley and community policing some credit, though, as the dip in the murder rate starts on Kelley's watch.



    I paid for MY silver spoon.

    by SpamNunn on Sat May 19, 2012 at 09:20:41 AM PDT

    •  all over the country violent crime rates are down (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kaib, BentLiberal

      not just NYC....if it was just NYC then S&F might have something to do with it's Nationwide, I'd look for a different cause.....

      Here in Az, everyone not a felon or PP can legally carry a concealed or open firearm....yet our crime rates are down we have the border and the smuggling and the violence that goes with it.....Down here in Pima, the very idea of "stop and frisk" would be laughed out of the meeting the first time it was brought up...

      Arpaio pulls a similar stunt in Maricopa with his "immigration sweeps"  which won't be happening for much longer as the Feds have finally filed if they'd just get the damn criminal charges gong..........

      Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
      I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
      Emiliano Zapata

      by buddabelly on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:26:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My tactic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was waiting for a subway train in the middle of the day in Brooklyn.  Two cops were towering over a young black male who was sitting on the bench.  I went over and sat down next to him and watched.  They were asking the young man questions and patting him down right there.  I looked in my purse to find a business card to give the young man if he needed a witness for anything.  The police saw me and hurriedly put an end to their interview and left.

    This poor kid seemed really scared.  He was wearing the droopy drawers look, which may have been why he was targeted.  But hell, that is not illegal.

    "I don't want to blame anyone. I just want to know how lowering taxes on the rich creates jobs" --Informed citizen at Congressional town hall

    by Time Waits for no Woman on Sat May 19, 2012 at 10:19:22 AM PDT

  •  How About This? (0+ / 0-)

    Make a rule that anyone detained on the street and released without formal charges being brought gets $1000 per hour from the police budget, minimum payment $1000, payable immediately upon release. Make the cop cut a city check on the spot to the victim if the S&F doesn't bear fruit.  Then to keep cops from filing frivolous charges to avoid payment, increase the payout tenfold if charges are brought and found to be baseless.  You could add another automatic $10,000 for an arrest that doesn't lead to formal charges since the victim will always have to answer "yes" when asked if they've been arrested, even if the arrest had no basis or merit. Although $10,000 seems low.

    Advisors for President-Elect Barack Obama feared the new administration would face a coup if it prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a new report out this morning.

    by Kurt Sperry on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:44:20 PM PDT

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