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Activists: NYPD stop-and-frisks down 30 percent

NEW YORK The number of New Yorkers who were stopped and searched by police was down in 2012 compared to the same period last year, according to an analysis of New York City Police Department data on the department's controversial stop-and-frisk program.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the NYPD stopped more than 1,400 innocent New Yorkers each day during the first nine months of 2012, or a total of 383,897 streets stops. That figure is about 30 percent below the number of streets stops in the first nine months of 2011.

The stop-and-frisk policy has been a lightning rod for both city officials (who claim it has reduced crime) and civil rights advocates (who say it is racial profiling).

The NYCLU said that in the most recent three-month period, about 87 percent of New Yorkers stopped and interrogated were black or Latino; about 10 percent were white. About 84 percent of those interrogations did not result in an arrest or a ticket.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, said the stop-and-frisk program "remains a tremendous waste of resources, sows mistrust between police and the communities they serve, and routinely violates fundamental rights. A walk to the subway, corner deli or school should not carry the assumption that you will be confronted by police, but that remains the disturbing reality for young men of color in New York City."

Last summer Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the disrespectful treatment of innocent people by the police is "not acceptable." He and NYPD Chief Ray Kelly are enacting reforms in the practice, including increased police training, improved oversight, and expanded community outreach.

But Bloomberg and Kelly have defended the practice of conducting stops, pointing to dropping rates of violent crimes as a sign of its success. Homicide rates have dropped more than 23 percent in the city between 2000 and 2011, according to police data.

Lieberman pointed out, however, that fewer street stops has not resulted in a rise in crime.

"The drop in stop-and-frisks coupled with the drop in gun violence contradicts the NYPD's narrative that stopping and frisking every person of color in sight is necessary to reduce crime in New York City," she said.