New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly lashed out at critics of stop and frisk in a Daily News editorial Monday, defending the program from the claim that it unfairly targets minorities. Last week Kelly-- after a federal judge condemned the NYPD's use of the controversial policy-- announced the department would make some changes to stop and frisk.
Kelly's reason for disproportionately stopping minorities?
The statistics reinforce what crime numbers have shown for decades: that blacks in this city were disproportionately the victims of violent crime, followed by Hispanics. Their assailants were disproportionally black and Hispanic too. Last year, blacks and Hispanics represented 96% of shooting victims and 90% of murder victims.
Kelly then directly targets his biggest opponents, alleging they provide no alternatives to stop and frisk, echoing the same arguments he made at a City Council hearing in March:
Did the New York Civil Liberties Union and certain City Council members protest or demand something be done to reduce black-on-black violence? Not at all. Instead, they have directed their animus toward the Police Department, condemning the very tactics that have saved more than 5,600 lives in New York’s poorest neighborhoods in the last decade.
The link, however, between decreased crime and increased stop and frisks, could prove tenuous. The New York Times reports that "In 2002, when Mr. Kelly last took office, officers stopped 97,296 New Yorkers and the city reported 587 homicides. Last year, those numbers were 685,724 and 532"-- a short drop in murders considering the massive increase in stop and frisks. And WNYC reports that "of the 13 precincts where homicides were up [in 2011], stop and frisks increased in six over the same reporting period last year. And in the remaining seven, stop and frisks were down."
Kelly then gives an alternative to stop and frisk, albeit one that still includes police stops:
In the neighborhoods whose churches participated in the NYPD Brooklyn Clergy Coalition, we saw a reduction in the murders of young black men by as much as a third between 2010 and last year. The NYPD’s policy of engagement, including the establishment of impact zones, the use of police stops in precincts citywide and the application of advanced technology was supplemented from the pulpit, where pastors used information provided by the department to update parishioners, to reach out to gang members and to otherwise engage the community in an all-out effort to reduce the bloodshed.
Finally, Kelly slams his critics as having "short memories and questionable motives" in "misrepresent[ing] America’s most diverse police department as racist," before acknowledging that minorities do indeed bear the brunt of the NYPD's aggressive policing.
To read Kelly's editorial in full, head over to the Daily News.