The New York Police Department released new data showing the vast majority of victims and perpetrators of violent crime in the city are black and Latino, in what experts said was likely part of a broader effort to defuse allegations of racial bias in the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy.
The statistics, which cover crime in 2012 through the end of June, show that 96 percent of all shooting victims and 97 percent of all shooting suspects in the city were black or Latino. The report also shows that more than 90 percent of New Yorkers stopped and frisked so far in 2012 were black and Latino.
The report was posted on the NYPD website this week.
Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and a former NYPD officer and criminal prosecutor, told The Huffington Post that the report was part of an attempt by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the NYPD to undercut accusations that the city's stop-and-frisk policy illegally targeted minorities.
"What they're trying to say is that it legitimizes the stop-and-frisk policy. That's what it's being used to do," O'Donnell said.
The city is currently battling a class action lawsuit alleging that the NYPD subjects hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to unjustified searches each year on the basis of race.
Kelly has vigorously defended the stop-and-frisk policy this summer as the city experienced a spike in shootings -- including several incidents involving young children -- even as homicide numbers continue to decline.
"Yes, we do rely on the proactive policy of engagement," Kelly said in a speech in early August to the Harlem Chamber of Commerce. "We utilize the long-established right of the police to stop and question individuals about whom they have reasonable suspicion."
"We believe this is a life-saving measure," Kelly said.
Andrew Karmen, a criminal justice professor at John Jay College, said the NYPD's race-based crime data, seen in isolation, could paint a misleading picture. While the vast majority of shootings were committed by young black and Latino men, Karmen said, the perpetrators represented a tiny fraction of minority youth in the city.
"A small number of black and Hispanic youth are committing the majority of the crime," he said. "But it doesn't justify hundreds of thousands of stops of innocent people."
There were 515 murders and about 1,500 shootings in New York City in 2011. More than 600,000 New Yorkers were stopped and frisked in 2011, according to NYPD data acquired through litigation by the New York Civil Liberties Union. Nearly 90 percent of those stopped were black and Latino, who make up 51 percent of the city's population, or more than 4 million people.
O'Donnell said the NYPD report this week was thin on details and contained no information indicating the success or failure of the stop-and-frisk policy in reducing gun crime. "This report doesn't tell me anything," he said.
He said the report could also feed false stereotypes that paint whole racial groups as being criminally inclined.
"I don't think this is a beneficial report," he said. "This stuff gets used nefariously all the time."
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