Earlier this morning, I received a New York Times alert stating that the stop-and-frisk practice of the New York Police Department was deemed illegal, as it "violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers." And while it may be true that thousands of people, most of whom are of color, were stopped and frisked, I disagree with this decision.
As Ray Kelly, the NYPD's commissioner, recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "Since 2002, the New York Police Department has taken tens of thousands of weapons off the street through proactive policing strategies. The effect this has had on the murder rate is staggering. In the 11 years before Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office, there were 13,212 murders in New York City. During the 11 years of his administration, there have been 5,849. That's 7,383 lives saved — and if history is a guide, they are largely the lives of young men of color."
It should also be noted that during poor economic times, when crime rates should naturally spike, they didn't. And there may be more murders in one part of Brooklyn in 2013 than there were in 2012, but there are many factors that can cause this. The numbers speak for themselves: "In 1990, there were 260 killings. By 1998, there were 104. And in 2012, 57 people were murdered — a 78.1% decrease from 1990, NYPD data shows."
Stop-and-frisk is working. There are clearly fewer "bad guys" roaming the streets with guns, hard drugs, and other illegal possessions. If the NYPD is forced to no longer practice this policy, the results will be clear: Crime and murder rates will rise rapidly and criminals will start to retake the streets, knowing that there will be fewer consequences for them if they cannot randomly be stopped. New York will be a worse place for young people, families, businesses, and anyone who wants to freely enjoy the many offerings the city has.
I have never been frisked by the NYPD, but I was certainly stopped in Prospect Park last year when I was sitting beside two empty beer bottles. It was embarrassing to be given a summons, and a huge pain to take off of work to fight for my rights in court (I won). But I have never been the victim of a violent crime in New York (other than being hit by one asshole cab driver), and I doubt this would be true if I lived in New York 25 years ago. I remember when, as a child, my father had his car stolen near Stuyvesant Town, and had his car broken into downtown too.
As a person who spends the vast majority of my time in New York City, I am thankful that I don't have to fearfully watch my back when I'm returning home from a late-night concert or when walking home alone from the subway in the wee hours of the morning, because I know that New York is a safe city. I have stop-and-frisk to thank for this. There are fewer criminals on the streets because criminals will be caught by the NYPD. The NYPD should continue stop-and-frisk, because though some people may lose some of their civil liberties, as a city and as a society, we will all be far better off, leading to a New York that thrives socially, economically, and culturally.