04/11/2012 09:28 am ET

NYPD Stop And Frisk: State Attorney General Schneiderman Examining Controversial Program For Fairness

In keeping with a 2010 campaign promise, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is reviewing the controversial practice of NYPD stop-and-frisks, and deciding whether his office should issue a formal report.

A source tells The New York Daily News that a "working group" inside Schneiderman's office is analyzing stop-and-frisk data, including racial breakdowns of those subjected to the searches, to determine whether a more expansive analysis is necessary. The last time an expansive report was issued on the issue was 1999 by then AG Eliot Spitzer.

New York's finest stopped and interrogated people 684,330 times in 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal, a 14 percent increase over 2010. 92 percent of those stopped were males, and 87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic, a glaring disparity considering blacks and Hispanics make up only 59 percent of the city's population.

88 percent of those stopped-and-frisked were not charged with crimes.

If Schneiderman does decide to go after NYPD stop-and-frisks, he sets himself up for a political battle with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Despite numerous lawsuits aimed at the practice of stop-and-frisk, Bloomberg and Kelly continue to defend the practice, maintaining that it reduces crime across the city and keeps guns off the streets. At an unrelated press conference Tuesday, Kelly defended the practice as a "life-saving tactic," according to The Daily News, and noted that there have been 51% fewer murders in the past 10 years than in the prior decade.

And during a grilling by the City Council in March Kelly said, "You don't have any answers. You criticize but you don't have any answers," in response to words from City Councilman Jumaane Williams.

In February, City Councilman Williams launched a legislative effort to reduce the number of NYPD stop-and-frisks, including a measure that would require police officers to hand out business cards after an interrogation.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed 49 percent of New Yorkers disapproved of the NYPD's current use of stop-and-frisks, while 46 approved. Broken down by race, white voters approved 59 - 36 percent, while disapproval was 68 - 27 percent among black voters and 52 - 43 percent among Hispanic voters.

The issue has come further into the spotlight with the Trayvon Martin tragedy, with many in New York claiming stop-and-frisks create a stigma around minority men as being more likely to commit crimes.

(For more on stop-and-frisks, check out this HuffPost debate between City Councilmen Jumaane Wiliams and Peter Vallone.)