Alt. Fact of the Week

The ex­pe­ri­ence of New York (not to men­tion Bal­ti­more) shows Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is flat wrong that stop and frisk works

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE -

Our view:

We sup­pose it shouldn’t be sur­pris­ing that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump clings to the be­lief that the heavy­handed, dis­crim­i­na­tory po­lice prac­tice known as stop and frisk “works and was meant for prob­lems like Chicago,” as he as­serted this week at a meet­ing of po­lice chiefs in Florida. As Mary­land gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Ben Jeal­ous pointed out when asked about the pres­i­dent’s re­marks dur­ing a Sun ed­i­to­rial board meet­ing this week, Mr. Trump still be­lieves a group of black and His­panic youths known as the Cen­tral Park Five were guilty of a no­to­ri­ous 1989 rape de­spite DNA ev­i­dence to the con­trary. “Let’s start there with Pres­i­dent Trump,” said Mr. Jeal­ous, who knows a thing or two about stop and frisk from his days as head of the NAACP. “His thoughts on crim­i­nal jus­tice are ex­treme and typ­i­cally defy so­cial sci­ence.”

That they do, and they earn him Al­ter­na­tive Fact of the Week hon­ors. Stop and frisk has proved a re­mark­ably in­ef­fec­tive tac­tic at re­mov­ing guns and drugs from the streets, and its use has (at best) no cor­re­la­tion what­so­ever with crime rates.

Former New York mayor/cur­rent Trump toadie Ru­dolph Gi­u­liani is as force­ful in his be­lief that the use of stop and frisk cause the de­cline in crime dur­ing his ten­ure as he is wrong. Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the New York Civil Lib­er­ties Union, up­ward of 90 per­cent of those stopped turned out to be com­pletely in­no­cent. In fact, tes­ti­mony in the law­suit that even­tu­ally forced the city to cur­tail the tac­tic re­vealed that Af­ter the post-Fred­die Gray un­rest in 2015, KAL com­mented on the peril we all face when a rift de­vel­ops over eight years, 4.4 .

be­tween the po­lice and the com­mu­nity they serve. mil­lion stop and frisk A searches turned up about 6,000 guns, or a hit rate of a lit­tle bet­ter than one in a thou­sand. The prac­tice was clearly dis­crim­i­na­tory, too; al­though blacks and His­pan­ics ac­counted for more than 80 per­cent of such en­coun­ters, the rate at which guns were found in searches of whites was twice as high as it was for blacks.

What’s more, the crime de­cline in New York be­gan be­fore Mr. Guil­iani took over and con­tin­ued well past his depar­ture — and as the stop-and-frisk rate plum­meted. In 2012, New York po­lice con­ducted more than 685,000 stop-and-frisk searches, and the city had 419 mur­ders and an over­all vi­o­lent crime rate of 639 per 100,000 peo­ple. In 2017, po­lice con­ducted a mere 10,891 stop-and-frisks. The city counted 290 mur­ders last year and a vi­o­lent crime rate of 539 per 100,000 peo­ple.

In Bal­ti­more, our ex­pe­ri­ence with such ag­gres­sive tac­tics has been sim­i­lar. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bal­ti­more’s polic­ing prac­tices found sim­i­lar suc­cess rates for stop-and-frisk style searches here and the same pat­tern of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion. Forty-four per­cent of the more than 300,000 such stops the BPD con­ducted over a four-year pe­riod took place in two heavily African-Amer­i­can po­lice dis­tricts that to­gether ac­count for just 11 per­cent of the city’s pop­u­la­tion. The DOJ re­ported that it was com­mon prac­tice for Bal­ti­more po­lice to "pat-down or frisk in­di­vid­u­als as a mat­ter of course, with­out iden­ti­fy­ing nec­es­sary grounds to be­lieve that the per­son is armed and dan­ger­ous. And even where an ini­tial frisk is jus­ti­fied, we found that of­fi­cers of­ten vi­o­late the Con­sti­tu­tion by ex­ceed­ing the frisk's per­mis­si­ble scope."

Given how rarely such tac­tics turned up il­le­gal guns, it’s a near cer­tainty that the tac­tics did more to con­trib­ute to Bal­ti­more’s epi­demic of vi­o­lent crime than they did to stop it. The DOJ re­port notes that such prac­tices con­vinced many res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly mi­nori­ties, "that there is racism in law en­force­ment, un­nec­es­sary force and ver­bal abuse, an ‘us ver­sus them' at­ti­tude among po­lice of­fi­cers, a lack of pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tions with the po­lice, and strong feel­ings of re­crim­i­na­tion, re­sent­ment, fear and mis­trust among res­i­dents."

This week, the judge in charge of en­forc­ing Bal­ti­more’s con­sent de­cree with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment strongly made the case that tac­tics like stop and frisk are pre­cisely the op­po­site of what Bal­ti­more’s po­lice should be do­ing to re­duce a vi­o­lent crime rate that is sub­stan­tially worse than Chicago’s. “No po­lice depart­ment can solve 17 homi­cides in a week with­out the co­op­er­a­tion of the com­mu­nity,” U.S. Dis­trict Judge James K. Bredar said. But if we — or Chicago or any other city — want to achieve and main­tain trust be­tween the com­mu­nity and po­lice, we had best not take Pres­i­dent Trump’s ad­vice on stop and frisk.


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