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NEW YORK NEW YORK: Minorities: stop and frisk targets


Tony Best

NEW YORK NEW YORK: Minorities: stop and frisk targets

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It’s not unusual to hear a Bajan parent in New York City say: “My son was stopped by the police for no reason at all.”
When mothers or fathers complained about the kids being “stopped”, they usually add “and frisked”.
Put the two together and what you get is the City Police Department’s stop and frisk policy, which gives cops permission to detain anyone, especially young men, frisk them for dangerous weapons or illegal drugs, even in the absence of reasonable suspicion that the youth is up to no good.
“Yes, my son was a victim of the stop and frisk policy, but I don’t want his or mine name mentioned,” said a woman who came to the United States from Barbados more than a dozen years with her son who is now in high school with his eyes set on going to college or university.
“He didn’t have anything on him. He wants to be an engineer and has never been in trouble with the law.”
The policy has angered people at all levels of society, especially leaders of communities of colour. Interestingly many white officials are speaking out against the policy.
Just last week, Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough president, told hundreds of West Indians, African-Americans and others that the city should be “outraged about” the police action. Why?
Figures tell much of the story.
Of the 700 000 New Yorkers who were stopped by cops in recent times, 85 per cent were Blacks and Latinos. Just as bad 99 per cent of the stops resulted in no arrests and in 94 per cent of the frisks, “no gun is ever found”, complained Stringer.
If that picture strikes you as being grossly unfair to New Yorkers, how would you react to the news that a similar thing is happening in the Britain?
According to a recent analysis of government statistics in England and Wales conducted by the London School of Economics (LSE), a black person, be he or she of West Indian or continental African background, is 30 times more likely to be “stopped and searched” by police than a white person.
What makes the situation so bad is that the stops are on the rise, going from 10.7 times in 2009 to 26.6 times last year. A separate Home Office analysis indicated that less than one per cent of the searches led to an arrest for possession of a dangerous weapon, five times less than a decade ago.
Like New York, there is growing disquiet in England about the unfair policy which amounts to racial profiling. That’s why the Metropolitan Police in London is reviewing its approach.
Unfortunately, no such response is in the works in New York where the New York Police Department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are doing exactly what Shiner warned against: ignoring the problem.
Such divides the police and the community, it also makes cooperation with law enforcement doubly difficult.
So don’t be caught off-guard if a relative in London, Birmingham or Brooklyn complains about the stop, frisk or search.
It’s pervasive.

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