Former NYPD Chief Ray Kelly Still Trying To Sell His Post-Stop-And-Frisk Apocalypse But The Stats Aren't Backing Him Up

from the sorry,-don't-need-any-FEAR-today dept

Former NYPD police chief Ray Kelly is still telling his stop-and-frisk story to whoever will listen. The story is -- and always has been -- that if the NYPC isn't allowed to make hundreds of thousands of unconstitutional stops every year, the city will slide back into lawlessness. The supporting evidence offered for this pending apocalypse never added up. Kelly claimed stop-and-frisk kept guns off the street but statistics maintained by the NYPD itself showed that the difference between stop-and-frisk-free 2003 and 2012's 500,000+ stops was a grand total of 96 guns -- a difference of .02%.

What stop-and-frisk was good for was low-level drug busts, almost entirely for minor marijuana possession. If anything, the data would point to an increase in marijuana use rather than violence, but in a recent interview with WNYC, Kelly is still pushing the "deadly future" narrative despite data to the contrary.

I think the lawsuit was an abomination. The judge was removed from the case and I think every indication is if the appeal were allowed to go forward, it would have been reversed and it's a shame Mayor de Blasio did that because I think people will suffer. You see shootings up now; I don't know if there's a direct relationship now, maybe time will tell.
Kelly's data is correct -- at least as much as he's actually willing to quote. He hedged this assertion with "maybe it's related" (to a decline in stops), but most likely believes it actually is. He told WNYC's Brian Lehrer that "people will suffer" thanks to the court's decision. The problem is this: shootings are up 5.5% in New York City during a period of steep decline in stop-and-frisk stops (less than 33,000 stops in the last half of 2013 compared to 2012's total of 532,911 stops). But they are up 5.4% across the state, in areas where stop-and-frisk was never implemented or curbed.

Not only that, but despite the bump in shootings, there's been an overall decrease in violent crime in New York City during this same time frame. The New York Time's analysis of stop-and-frisk data shows violent crime dropping in four once-heavily targeted areas of the city. It's too early to tell if these numbers will hold as stop-and-frisk is phased out, but it's certainly a very different picture than the one Ray Kelly and then-Mayor Bloomberg tried to paint after the court's decision.

It also should be noted that even if crime does rise, that still isn't a justification for returning to the stop-and-frisk program. As Scheindlin noted, the city's claim that it was an effective deterrent (a claim that itself was questionable -- dramatic decreases in violent crime were noted in other major cities that didn't perform these random stops) ultimately had no bearing on the Constitutionality of the searches. In other words, just because warrantless searches have the potential to catch more criminals doesn't make warrantless searches OK.

Chief Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg sold a lot of fear from their respective offices during their tenure as city employees. Now, they've lost their platforms and their power to bend policy to fit their vivid imaginations. They both argued that the limitations imposed by the Constitution made it harder to police the city and would ultimately endanger its inhabitants. These claims are proving to be empty and showing them for what they actually were: power grabs fronting as concern for the safety of the public.

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Filed Under: nypd, ray kelly, stop and frisk


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  1. identicon
    Mark Noo, 14 Oct 2014 @ 10:53am

    Why "stop and search"? Why not "Stop and Detain Until Paid"? That is how they do it in Nicargua.
    They stop you and take you to jail until the proper bribe has been paid.
    Unless, of course, you are important. Than they do not stop you at all. Nicaraguan cops don't mess with important people, they know they will be killed if they do.

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