*NOTE: The full report, available here, was published by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on January 15, 2009. I conducted this analysis and drafted the report while on staff of CCR (from 2004-2009). This analysis was submitted to the New York City Council in testimony, and conducted as part of Floyd et al v City of New York et al class-action litigation, which led to the city’s use of stop-and-frisk being ruled as racially discriminatory. I’ve republished the executive summary in this post.
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
On September 9, 2008, the United States District Court in Manhattan ordered the New York Police Department (NYPD) to provide all of its UF-250, or “stop-and-frisk,”(1) data from 1998 through the first half of 2008 to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD failed to prove that the law enforcement privilege protects the NYPD from having its questionable stop-and-frisk practices exposed to public scrutiny and further, that all of the data other than personal identifying information of police officers and persons stopped, could be made available to the public.
The order was the result of a discovery request served on the City of New York in April 2008 seeking production of the data as part of an ongoing civil rights lawsuit filed by CCR on behalf of plaintiffs who allege they were illegally stopped and frisked on one or more occasions by NYPD officers without reasonable suspicion and because of their race. The lawsuit, Floyd v. City of New York was filed on January 31, 2008 and alleges that the NYPD engages in racial profiling and suspicionless stop-and-frisks of law-abiding New York City residents. The named plaintiffs in the litigation – David Floyd, Lalit Clarkson, David Ourlicht and Deon Dennis – represent hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who over the past several years have been stopped on the way to work, in front of their homes, or just walking down the street, without any cause, primarily because of their race or ethnicity.
In a preliminary review of the UF-250 data from 2005 through the first half of 2008, CCR made the following findings:
The NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk is on the rise. In 2005, the NYPD made less than 400,000 stops in comparison to a projected 543,982 stops in 2008. Over a period of 3.5 years, the NYPD has initiated nearly 1,600,000 stops of New Yorkers.
The NYPD continues to disproportionately stop-and-frisk Black and Latino individuals. From 2005 to 2008, approximately 80 percent of total stops made were of Blacks and Latinos, who comprise 25 percent and 28 percent of New York City’s total population, respectively. During this same time period, only approximately 10 percent of stops were of Whites, who comprise 44 percent of the city’s population.
Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be frisked after a NYPD-initiated stop than Whites. Between 2005 and June 2008, Whites comprised 8 percent and Blacks comprised 85 percent of all individuals frisked by the NYPD. In addition, 34 percent of Whites stopped during this time period were also frisked, while 50 percent of Blacks and Latinos stopped were also frisked.
Blacks and Latinos are more likely to have physical force used against them during a NYPD-initiated stop than Whites. The data reveals that a significant number of stops result in the use of force by the NYPD. Of those stops, a disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos have physical force used against them. Between 2005 and June 2008, 17 percent of Whites, compared to 24 percent of Latinos and Blacks, had physical force used against them during NYPD-initiated encounters.
Stops-and-frisks result in a minimal weapons yield and/or contraband yield. The data demonstrates a paucity of stops resulting in weapons and/or contraband yield across racial lines. Of the cumulative number of stops made since 2005, only 2.6 percent resulted in the discovery of a weapon or contraband. Though rates of contraband yield were minute across all racial groups, stops made of Whites prove to be slightly more likely to yield contraband. This suggests stop-and-frisk is not an effective crime fighting tactic.
The proportion of stops-and-frisks by race does not correspond with rates of arrest or summons. Arrest and summons rates for persons stopped during the period of 2005 through the first half of 2008 were low for all racial groups, with between 4 and 6 percent of all NYPDinitiated stops resulting in arrests and 6 and 7 percent resulting in summons being issued during this period. This further suggests stop-and-frisk is not an effective crime fighting tactic.
The UF-250 data provided by the NYPD plainly demonstrate that Black and Latino New Yorkers have a greater likelihood of being stopped-and-frisked by NYPD officers at a rate significantly disproportionate to that of White New Yorkers. That NYPD officers use physical force during stops of Blacks and Latinos at an exceedingly disproportionate rate compared to Whites who are stopped, and that this disparity exists despite corresponding rates of arrest and weapons or contraband yield across racial lines, further supports claims that the NYPD is engaged in racially-biased stop-and-frisk practices. The findings of this preliminary review of the data are presented in greater detail herein.
(1) “Stop-and-frisk,” also referred to as “stop-question-and-frisk,” is a practice by which an NYPD officer initiates a stop of an individual on the street. Stops are supposed to occur when the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur. Frisks are legally permitted only when the officer believes the individual poses an immediate threat to the officer or people in the immediate area. Stops may result in arrest or the issuance of a summons to the individual. Stops-and-frisks are often used in “quality of life” policing models.