New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly issued a challenge for local lawmakers to come up with ideas other than stop-and-frisk measures to reduce crime in communities of color and Central Brooklyn’s elected officials responded with a boatload.
Kelly issued the challenge on March 13 when he was grilled before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety regarding the controversial “stop-and-frisk” program, which has resulted in the NYPD stopping over 684,000 people last year, 87% of which were black or Latino.
“Ninety-six percent of the shooting victims in this city are people of color. Ninety percent of the murder victims are people of color,” said Kelly. “What I haven’t heard is any solution to the violence problem in these communities. People are upset about being stopped, yet what is the answer? What have you said about how we stop this violence? What do leaders of the communities of color say? What is their tactic and strategy to get guns off the street? Don’t tell me ‘A gun buy-back program.’”
Bedford-Stuyvesant City Councilman Al Vann responded there are a number of solutions the NYPD and the city should pursue together with communities to reduce crime and violence rather than inappropriately relying on stop-and-frisk as a panacea that only increases the divide between the police and communities.
“Instead of cutting services for young people, such as early childhood education and after-school programs, the mayor should be committing more resources to prevent many of our young people from being led astray into criminal activity,” said Vann.
“Additionally, the NYPD needs to return to using a stronger community policing model that utilizes the activism and involvement of community leaders. The restoration of the NYPD Block Watcher’s Training would certainly be a first step in reinvigorating this policing model that works collaboratively with communities rather than treating them as occupied territories,” he added.
Fort Greene/Clinton Hill City Councilwoman Letitia James said she was disappointed in Kelly’s reliance on stop-and-frisk, and his defense of the policy lacks an in-depth approach to reducing crime.
“The commissioner’s response to the opposition of ‘stop-and-frisk’ misses an important point. No one wants crime to rise, NYPD’s misguided stop-and-frisk policy has significantly increased under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure encouraging racial profiling,” said James. “We must reevaluate how the NYPD assesses our young men and women of color before they are ‘stopped-and-frisked’, and we must question whether this policy is an effective crime-fighting tool.”
Flatbush City Councilman Jumaane Williams criticized Kelly for questioning whether leaders in communities of color had real solutions for reducing crime, and said he lacked leadership.
“In the absence of Commissioner Kelly’s real leadership, my colleagues and I will continue to pursue meaningful reform that brings about safer streets for all New Yorkers, as opposed to discriminatory and lazy policing,” said Williams.
Williams recently sponsored a bill to give individuals stopped by uniformed cops more rights, and questioned Kelly on how stop-and-frisk profiles minorities and its overall effectiveness in reducing crime.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the top two precincts that stopped the most people in New York City were in Brooklyn, the 75th Precinct in East New York and the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville.
By B. Sadlonova