iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump has praised the policing tactic known as “stop and frisk” on the campaign trail, but the controversial technique has a questionable history in New York City.
The stop-question-and-frisk program entails NYPD officers’ randomly stopping people on the street, on the theory that such searches help law enforcement identify people with illegal handguns and deter crime.
Supporters credit the program with helping to push down homicides and other major crimes in New York City to historic lows, but opponents have another description: racial profiling.
A federal judge in New York ruled in 2013 that the program was unconstitutional and violated the rights of minorities because they were being disproportionally targeted by the practice.
Between 2003 and 2015, for instance, more than half of those who were subjected to searches were black and about 30 percent of the other searches were of Latinos, according to an analysis of New York Police Department records by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The NYPD stopped the most New Yorkers in 2011 — 685,724 – before the number dropped to 532,911 in 2012 and 191,558 in 2013, the year when the federal ruling was handed down.
The number of reported stops then dropped dramatically to 45,787 in 2014 and 22,939 last year, according to the figures analyzed by the NYCLU.
“Tactics like stop and frisk or tactics that utilize race-based profiles are ineffective because they don’t differentiate between those in the community who may be involved in criminal activity and those who are simply residents in the community,” professor John Cohen of the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice said.
“So what tends to happen is you tend to have a greater number of confrontational police interactions with members of the community who are not involved in any type of illegal activity. That not only is ineffective operationally but it also tends to cause tension between those members of the community who are the people you want to have good relationships with,” Cohen, an ABC News consultant, former police officer and former acting Homeland Security undersecretary, added.
The NYPD records analyzed by the NYCLU note that the number of people who were completely innocent account for 80 to 90 percent of the searches.
“It’s not helping you in the short run because your officers are spending time with people who aren’t involved in criminal activity,” Cohen said.
Trump, who has calls himself the “law and order candidate,” has lauded the NYPD “stop and frisk” program on the campaign trail, saying in Ohio Wednesday the program “was incredible, the way that worked.”
When asked by an African-American audience member at the Fox News town hall event about how he would stop violence in the black community, Trump said, “I would do stop and frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York. It worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically.”
But his praise may not sit well with many African-American voters, whom Trump has been actively courting in recent weeks.
Cohen said, “The reason why African-Americans and other minority members will react negatively to his comments on stop and frisk is because many African-Americans and Latinos equate stop and frisk with racial profiling and, from a law enforcement perspective, racial profiling is operationally ineffective and unconstitutional.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, took issue with Trump’s suggestion today when asked about it during a news conference for the Congressional Black Caucus.
“For years ‘stop, question and frisk’ was implemented in New York and it had nothing to do with the decline in crime,” Jeffries said.
“The notion that stop and frisk had anything to do with the improving public safety numbers in New York is ludicrous and Donald trump needs to check his facts,” he said.
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