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New York Post

 

Stops: A Street-Eye View

June 18, 2014

By Heather Mac Donald

Is this year's 10 percent rise in shootings linked to the sharp drop in NYPD stop, question and frisks?

It seemed worth asking whether residents of the city's high-crime areas even noticed the fall in stops, which are down 86 percent in the first quarter of 2014 vs. the same period last year.

Several people saw no change in what they deemed an already low stop rate.

A woman playing checkers inside the North Bronx's Gun Hill Houses said: “I never noticed much stops to begin with,” belying the advocates' dogma that minority neighborhoods have been terrorized by an out-of-control stop regime.

A young man who also reported no change in low police activity added that his lifestyle didn't lend itself to contact with the police: “I just go to work; I don't hang out anymore.”

People who'd been stopped recently also reported no difference in the stop rate, which they deemed too high. A tall young male with an angry scar across his neck in the Gun Hill Houses had been stopped the week before: “They still do it, they'll do what they want to do.”

A 23-year-old father in Brownsville with a crown tattoo under his eye (likely indicating Latin Kings affiliation) complained that an undercover had recently stopped him for no reason.

“In Brooklyn, there's stops every day,” he groused, before tossing his pizza crust into the street.

Ceta, a teen chatting with girlfriends on a bench in East Harlem's Johnson Houses, declared: “It's still the same. When they see a crowd, especially the project police, they don't know how to act.” Her companion Alisa responded tartly: “I guess it's because the project people don't know how to act.”

But many pedestrians had noticed a drop in stops. “I've definitely seen a difference over the last two years,” said Quasar, a tattooed young man in a green striped shirt in the Gun Hill Houses. “It was aggressive before.”

An older man in a black Nike shirt sitting with friends on the periphery of the project said that “since the new mayor, there's been a difference, a definite change of behavior.”

Nelson, a young fraternity brother, reported that though there's not much police activity in his neighborhood of Allerton , his friends around Gun Hill Road are getting stopped less.

One of four older men gathered outside the El Barrio Superette at 115th and Lex observed that the police “did it a lot last year on Third Ave., this year not so much.”

At that moment, a fistfight broke out between three gang members in the middle of heavy traffic on Lexington. One fighter in a yellow shirt ran to the west side of Lex and gestured tauntingly at the other two gangbangers, before all three dissolved into the side streets.

“That's why the police are necessary,” reflected another of the older men.

In short, at least some New Yorkers have in fact noticed the drop in stops. And what of the million-dollar question — “If stops are down, will gun-carrying rise?”

Even people who objected to being stopped thought that gun possession would go up. “If you're stopped less, it's easier to have guns, it's a fact,” said the 23-year-old Brownsville dad. “If it was me, why not? I'd carry my gun. That's probably why shootings are up.”

“Stops do deter, it makes them think twice,” said TJ, a young adult with a goatee and a Walkman in the Gun Hill Houses.

Still, any change in police behavior would normally take many months of settling in to alter street thugs' calculation of risk. But stops have been declining since 2011: from 686,600 to 191,588 in 2013.

And at the current rate, this year's tally will be 57,000, down nearly 92 percent since 2011. We may soon be able to draw some conclusions about the relationship between shootings and stops. Nothing else in police practice has changed as radically as stop activity.

To be sure, there have been plenty of short-term crime spikes in the last two decades that the NYPD was eventually able to reverse. And if anyone deserves deference regarding crime-fighting tactics, it's Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, with his record of policing innovation and success.

But if the department proves unable to get a handle on this latest shooting surge, Mayor de Blasio should heed the words of a young Jamaican welder in the North Bronx who had been stopped once before: “They were simply doing their job. Without them, matters would be so much worse.”

Original Source: http://nypost.com/2014/06/17/stops-a-street-eye-view-the-word-in-high-crime-hoods/

 

 
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