Donald Trump says stop and frisk will protect black people — but that didn't happen in NYC

Donald Trump says stop and frisk will protect black people — but that didn't happen in NYC
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's supposed plan to stop violence in black communities relies on expanding police powers to stop and frisk people in those communities at will, apparently.

On Wednesday, NBC Politics' Alexandra Jaffe posted an excerpt from an upcoming Trump appearance on Trump-allied media personality Sean Hannity's television show in which the candidate endorses expanding stop-and-frisk practices nationally.

When an audience member asked Trump for his solution to "a lot of violence in the black community ... you know, black-on-black crime," the candidate responded, "Right, well, one of the things I'd do, Ricardo, is I would do stop and frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically, you understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see what's going on here, I see what's going on in Chicago, I think stop and frisk."

"In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked," he added. "Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, I so I think that could be one step you could do."

As Trump's supposed concern for the plight of minority communities really more resembles a ploy to appeal to bigoted beliefs held by white voters, his national stop-and-frisk plan may be more about just that than actual policy. But even taking Trump at his word leads to some dismal conclusions.

An NYPD street stop training exercise in 2012.
Source: 
Colleen Long/AP

Stop and frisk is a police tactic in which officers stop and briefly detain supposedly suspicious individuals, searching them for weaponry or anything else that could get them in trouble with the law. Historically, police have typically targeted impoverished and minority neighborhoods for stop-and-frisk operations, which is why its opponents call it a euphemism for racial profiling.

A 2013 analysis by the New York attorney general's office showed the policy was not, in fact, "incredible" from the standpoint of securing convictions of criminals. According to MSNBC, "just 1.5% of all stop-and-frisk arrests resulted in a jail or prison sentence. Just one in 50 stop-and-frisk arrests, 0.1%, led to a conviction for a violent crime or possession of a weapon. Close to half of all stop-and-frisk arrests did not result in a conviction."

From 2004 to 2012, the analysis found, the NYPD stopped more than 4.4 million people, ultimately finding weapons on less than 1% of those stopped. So if the intent of Trump's stop-and-frisk proposal was actually to make people safer, there's little evidence it would.

The practice was stopped after a federal court ruled it unconstitutional, with Judge Shira Scheindlin writing:

"Under the NYPD's policy, targeting the 'right people' means stopping people in part because of their race. Together with Commissioner Kelly's statement that the NYPD focuses stop and frisks on young blacks and Hispanics in order to instill in them a fear of being stopped, and other explicit references to race . . . there is a sufficient basis for inferring discriminatory intent."

Given the Trump campaign's dog-whistling rhetoric and penchant for racking up far-right allies, "discriminatory intent" may go a long way towards explaining the possible motivations of people wishing to roll stop and frisk out nationally.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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