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New York Post

 

The Times' Big Lie On Stop And Frisk

March 25, 2013

By Heather Mac Donald

It takes determination to out-demagogue New York City’s anti-cop advocates, but The New York Times did just that with its Page One story on Friday, headlined: "Bronx Inspector, Secretly Taped, Suggests Race Is a Factor in Stops."

The story claims that the recording "suggests that, in at least one precinct, a person’s skin color can be a deciding factor in who is stopped." In fact, the tape shows that crime determines who the police stop.

Joseph Goldstein’s article reported on Thursday’s proceedings in Floyd v. New York, a federal suit against the NYPD over its stop, question and frisk policy, one of the department’s most important crime-fighting techniques — whereby officers are expected to stop crime before it happens by questioning individuals engaged in suspicious behavior.

A key part of the plaintiffs’ case is the charge that the NYPD pressures officers to meet quotas for stops, summonses and arrests — and punishes those who don’t meet the quotas. To support that claim, the plaintiffs called Officer Pedro Serrano from the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx.

It’s one of the most gang- and violence-ridden precincts in the city, but in all of 2012, Serrano made only two stops of suspicious persons. His performance evaluation in 2012 was nevertheless squarely average (three on a scale of five), yet Serrano asked for a hearing with his precinct commander, Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack, to contest his evaluation — and he secretly recorded their exchange.

McCormack’s remarks show him fiercely committed to protecting his precinct’s mainly black and Hispanic residents. "The point here is that 99 percent of the people in this community are great, hardworking people who deserve to walk to the train stop, walk to their car, walk to the store [without fear of getting shot]," he tells Serrano.

But Serrano’s work isn’t bringing them that safety, McCormack says: Last year’s 23 percent rise in robberies and a 12 percent rise in grand larcenies means that "to stop two people, you know, to see only two things going on, that’s almost like you’re purposely not doing your job at all." Indeed, "I just don’t see anything that you’re doing . . . to help prevent the shootings, the robberies and the grand larcenies."

Goldstein included almost none of these statements in his story. Instead, he twisted McCormack’s words to allege he was telling Serrano to stop people on the basis of race.

On the tape, a supervisor reminds Serrano that an officer needs to suspect that a crime is in progress before making a stop: "You just don’t randomly go up and tell people to move. In your mind, there’s an infraction there — they’re committing a crime . . . Be clear on that . . . You are stopping these people and addressing them . . . because they are doing something wrong."

McCormack adds that the department stops and summonses only "the right people at the right time, the right location."

It is Serrano who then suggests that, because Mott Haven (a high shooting area) is "full of black and Hispanics," he is supposed to "stop every black and Hispanic."

McCormack, who’d said nothing about race, challenges Serrano: "You want to stop all black and Hispanic? . . . This is about stopping the right people [at] the right place [at] the right location."

He goes on to describe how proactive policing targets actual crime: "Again, take Mott Haven where we had the most problems. And the most problems we had, they was robberies and grand larcenies. . . . The problem was, what, male blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this, male blacks [ages] 14 to 20, 21."

Serrano is now screaming at McCormack, who warns, "This is becoming insubordination." McCormack complains to Serrano’s union rep that Serrano is trying to twist his meaning: "He was adding on that I wanted him to stop every black and Hispanic. He’s adding on that we wanted him to stop everybody in the street and to summons everybody in the street . . . That’s wrong." (A few months before, Serrano had joined the suit; he was likely trying to goad McCormack into saying something that could be used in court.)

Yet, simply because McCormack tells his officers at roll call the suspect descriptions in a recent robbery pattern — descriptions that come from witnesses and victims — Goldstein claims that "a person’s skin color can be a deciding factor in who is stopped."

That’s grossly deceptive. It underplays the fact that McCormack was talking about a specific robbery pattern with specific descriptions from victims and witnesses. It’s absurd to suggest that race be omitted from information given to officers about actual perps.

Further, victim reports on perps’ skin color are just one factor in whom the police stop: Suspicious behavior, location and time of day are equally important, as McCormack made patently clear.

In short, Goldstein has no basis for alleging that McCormack is making race the "deciding factor"—whatever that would mean in actual practice.

With reporting like this, the Times brings the city one step closer to shutting down its record-breaking crime decline — if Judge Shira Scheindin, presiding over Floyd, doesn’t get there first.

Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/the_times_big_lie_on_stop_and_frisk_Pv8qh0Fpt3djlmCtPAs7BN

 

 
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