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CBS New York Investigates: NYCLU data shows NYPD stopped 4,300 pedestrians during second quarter, highest since 2015

Data shows NYPD pedestrian stops recently reached highest point since 2015
Data shows NYPD pedestrian stops recently reached highest point since 2015 02:10

NEW YORK -- New data shows the number of pedestrian stops conducted by the NYPD has been increasing over the last few years, and recently reached the highest point since 2015. 

And while the department says it doesn't discriminate, civil rights activists say the data shows worsening racial disparities.

While the numbers have gone up over the last couple years, the NYPD is stopping far fewer pedestrians now than it did 12 years ago. That said, stop and frisk is still a major concern for people all over the city.

That's why the New York Civil Liberties Union is tracking and analyzing data regarding how often the NYPD stops people.

The numbers show in the second quarter of this year the NYPD stopped more than 4,300 pedestrians, the highest total for any quarter since 2015.

"They're creeping up," said Daniel Lambright, a senior staff attorney for the NYCLU.

Lambright said only 5% of those pedestrians were white.

The data does not say how often pedestrians were questioned or frisked.

"Stops are incredibly dehumanizing. They mark people as second-class citizens, especially when there's a racialized component to that," Lambright said. "Officers are kind of going based on stereotypes about who's a criminal and doing a lot of these stops and not finding anything worth arresting someone over."

The NYPD released a lengthy statement to CBS New York, which reads:

"Being observant, curious, and speaking with civilians to inquire about street circumstances are longstanding, fundamental tools of policing and hew with the NYPD's ongoing mission to listen carefully to local neighborhood concerns in all corners of New York City. A police officer's authority to stop, question and possibly frisk an individual was firmly established by the US Supreme Court in the landmark case Terry v. Ohio more than 50 years ago. The authority to stop an individual based upon reasonable suspicion of a crime, and frisk that person if the officer perceives a danger, is an essential tool in helping to reduce violence. Indeed, the Supreme Court commented in the Terry case that it would have been poor police work if the officer did not act based upon the suspicious behavior observed.

"The NYPD uses this tool with increasing levels of precision, stopping individuals based on organic, specific observations. The NYPD does not direct officers to conduct a certain number of stops. As a matter of policy, police officers are expected to follow and apply the law, as referenced in the Department's Patrol Guide section 212-11, in pursuit of their duties. To safeguard against improper police action and ensure policy compliance, the NYPD has concentric layers of training, supervision, and oversight. This involves auditing reports and arrests, analyzing stop data, reviewing body-worn-camera footage and taking remedial action to correct deficiencies. Whether in carrying out stops, or responding to calls for help from the public, or enforcing the law - the NYPD carries out all of its work without consideration of race or ethnicity.

"At the start of 2022, the NYPD was confronting double-digit spikes in crime amid the strains of a waning pandemic. Our incoming administration went to work, significantly driving down shootings and homicides and flattening most categories of index crime. Nearly eighteen months later, five of the eight patrol boroughs are down in overall crime, with rapes, robberies, burglaries, and grand larcenies down citywide. We know that there's still work to be done, but our officers are more engaged and focused than ever. They've increased the numbers of arrests by focusing on the drivers of crime, which has resulted in historically high gun arrests and the corresponding seizure of firearms off our city streets. They are eradicating violence and writing more summonses, all while improving our engagement with the community, underscoring our steadfast commitment to public safety for all."

The data shows that 71% of the stops from the second quarter did not result in an arrest or summons.

The NYCLU said that number has also been rising over the last two years, but it is down compared to 2011.

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