EAST HARLEM, NY (PIX11)—The practice of NYPD officers stopping and frisking people, whether or not they've committed a crime, is squarely in the spotlight now that the New York Civil Liberties Union, or NYCLU, has compiled a list of the ten police precincts where the practice is most widely carried out. However, focusing on an individual case shows the impact that the practice can have on a person's life.
"I've been stopped and frisked yesterday," a man in his thirties from East Harlem told PIX11 News. "The worst [case was] three or four times in one day."
"They're just pinpointing us. They're not doing this to the colleges," the man said, while standing with five friends on the corner of 103rd Street and 3rd Avenue. "They're just basically doing that to the minorities."
The numbers bear that out. The NYPD's own figures, analyzed by the NYCLU, show that 87 percent of people stopped and frisked were black or Latino. The man who spoke with PIX11 says he's all too familiar with the figures, having lived in three of the top ten stop and frisk neighborhoods.
"East New York, 75th Precinct; Williamsburg, the 90th Precinct; Harlem, the 23rd Precinct," he said, ticking off the neighborhoods listed first, fifth and sixth, respectively.
The last one he listed is the precinct he lives across the street from now. The 23rd is just east of the 28th Precinct where, last October, a group of protesters, in conjunction with the Occupy Wall Street movement, held a demonstration against the practice of stop and frisk. The demonstrators tried to block access to the 28th Precinct building and were peacefully and voluntarily arrested as part of their protest.
That same precinct has seen two murders so far this year, while it had none a year ago. It has also had a mixed record of reducing other felony crimes from a year ago. Between the end of last summer and the end of 2011, it also saw a series of random shootings every few weeks, all by teenage suspects. That came to a halt in the South Harlem precinct whose officers carry out stop and frisks, but are not in the Top 10. Still, the question remains, are any of the improvements in crime statistics the result of the practice of stop and frisk?
The NYCLU says no, for the same reason given by a person who's had it done to him. "They're stopping and frisking people and not getting any arrests from them," the unidentified man from East Harlem in the Detroit Lions cap told PIX 11 News.
In fact, only about five percent of stop and frisks led to arrests in East Harlem, and only six percent of citywide stop and frisks resulted in arrests. For its part, the NYPD said through a spokesperson that the point of the stop and frisk practice is not to make arrests, but to prevent crime. However, in East Harlem's 23rd precinct, the sixth highest for stop-and-frisks citywide, the number of all felonies is up for the year with the exception of one felony crime: murder.