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The Cost of Stop-and-Frisk

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It appears the stop-and-frisk policy of Michael Bloomberg may cost us dearly in the wallet.

The man who cares so much about the bottom line is willing to sacrifice the big bucks of New York taxpayers -- when it comes to civil liberties of young black and Latino men.

More than 600,000 stops are conducted a year by city police -- a policy that has come to define Bloomberg's relationship with minority communities in the city.

You see, the vast majority of stops are blacks or Latinos who are guilty only of walking (or standing) in New York City while dark of complexion.

Bloomberg, rhyming Jesse Jackson-style as he spoke recently at a black church, conceded that his stop and frisk policy had flaws but argued it is an effective crime-fighting tool and should be "mended, not ended."

Donna Lieberman explained to us that the stop-and-frisk policy may mean a court decision (or civil settlement) against the city, perhaps in the tens of millions of dollars.

Her group, the New York Civil Liberties Union, has filed suit against the city for the policy, which Lieberman calls one of the most abusive and racially discriminatory city policies of recent times.

Lieberman stressed that the "tens of millions" figure is potential, as opposed to likely. But she maintained the payments are a possibility and that while it may seem like a lot of money, it's little compared to the suffering of innocent young New Yorkers forced to undergo the indignity of being stopped and frisked by police every day.

It "pales by comparison to the harm that is suffered as a result of the massive violation of civil rights that goes on every day in communities of color... around the city," Lieberman told me.

City police last year are known to have made more than 600,000 stops, and some critics say the number is likely much higher.