Stop-and-Frisk Data Is Fair Game for Landmark Federal Trial

A Columbia University criminologist can tell a jury about research that he says proves racial bias permeates police stop-and-frisks, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Monday.

In rejecting objections to the expert testimony of Dr. Jeffrey Fagan, the court pointed to an affidavit from sitting state Sen. Eric Adams, D-N.Y. New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly allegedly told Adams, a former police captain, that the program specifically targeted black and Latino men.

Scheindlin summarized Professor Fagan’s findings about the data, which consists of millions of files from five years of stop-and-frisks.

“The racial composition of a precinct, neighborhood, and census tract is a statistically significant, strong and robust predictor of NYPD stop-and-frisk patterns even after controlling for the simultaneous influences of crime, social conditions, and allocation of police resources.
“NYPD stops-and-frisks are significantly more frequent for black and Hispanic residents than they are for white residents, even after adjusting for local crime rates, racial composition of the local population, police patrol strength, and other social and economic factors predictive of police enforcement activity.
“Blacks and Latinos are significantly more likely to be stopped by NYPD officers than are Whites even in areas where there are low crime rates and where residential populations are racially heterogeneous or predominately white.
“Black and Hispanic individuals are treated more harshly during stop-and-frisk encounters with NYPD officers than whites who are stopped on suspicion of the same or similar crimes.”
Specifically, Fagan found that the “percentage of stops whose suspected crime is uninterpretable has grown dramatically from 1.12% in 2004 to 35.9% in 2009.” Roughly 5 percent of stops resulted in an arrest, and about 6 percent produced a summons, according to the study.
“Overall, guns are seized in less than one percent of all stops: 0.15 percent,” the study states. “Contraband, which may include weapons but also drugs or stolen property, is seized in 1.75 percent of all stops.”

ADDED: While this case is in the Federal District Court of New York, it… Nonetheless is playing out all over this country, including right here in TN. Once it becomes settled case law, it will then begin to have an impact on how the police here in TN justify their stop and frisks or stop and talks, they all love to do.

Lots of Departments, just like Nashville PD require their patrol officers to conduct a given number of these “Field Interviews” or they face discipline. This type of behavior pushes the street officers to conduct questionable and even illegal stops of people breaking no laws.

Any cop has the right to initiate a verbal encounter with anyone. This is basically a cop walking up to any person for no reason and simply asking them to talk to him or her. But that person has the legal right to tell the cop to piss off, or simply walk away. If the cop gets his or her feelings hurt and elevates the encounter to a detention where the person is no longer free to leave, demands ID, etc… then it becomes an event where the cop must justify the stop. If not anything they find after the fact is inadmissible in court and they can face civil actions if the courts believe the person suffered harm during the unlawful stop.


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