Bratton, 2 Weeks Into Job, Says Stop and Frisk Has Been Solved

New York's new top cop promises reform

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The city's top cop made a bold declaration saying the problem of excessive stop and frisks has been solved. Not everyone agrees. Melissa Russo reports.

    After two weeks on the job, the city's new top cop says he's "more or less solved" the "problem" of stop and frisk, but the mayor is declining to credit anyone in his administration for the dropping number of street stops.

    According to the Daily News, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said some communities where the police tactic was previously used on a regular basis now report no cases of stop and frisk, and that the controversial practice began being used less frequently in the final days of Ray Kelly's tenure. 

    "Stop and frisk has been stopped in some neighborhoods altogether," Bratton said Wednesday at the Ford Foundation in Manhattan at an event sponsored by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, according to the News.

    About 194,000 citywide stop-and-frisk reports were filed in 2013, down from about 533,300 in 2012 and 694,000 in 2011, which is when Bratton said the practice was used most often, the News said. 

    While Bratton defended the use of stop and frisk as a policing tool, he said it was overused by the previous administration and that under his leadership, officers were ordered to conduct "constitutional and respectful policing." 

    Mayor de Blasio, who appointed Bratton, said in a news conference Thursday that it was community leaders who led the charge against stop and frisks, and that change had been in the works for years.

    "It's because people stood up. Clergy stood up, community activists stood up over the last two years, and that's honestly when change began to happen. Because people at the grassroots of this city spoke loudly and consistently," he said. 

    "You know that change was resisted by the previous administration quite aggressively," he added. "But at a certain point the mayor and the police commissioner backed away and started to modify their policies." 

    De Blasio said he has not issued any new directives on stop and frisk since he took office but that members of the NYPD have heard his message. 

    On the streets of Red Hook, public opinion varied. 

    "I think it's still going on. Even now, in the last couple of weeks," said Myrna Molina. 

    But Julius Johnson from Brownsville is convinced there's been a change since the new mayor took office.

    "I used to see it all the time. Now I see it much less," he said. "Now I see the police officers standing in the project buildings, just monitoring. They're not coming in and frisking everyone like they used to." 

    Last year, a federal judge ruled the NYPD's use of stop and frisk was unconstitutional, called for reforms and ordered a federal monitor be appointed to supervise the program. The monitor is on hold pending an appeal of a federal judge's ruling. 

    Mayor de Blasio, who made ending stop and frisk a cornerstone of his campaign, has said he will drop the appeal, but the police unions may press forward. 

    Bratton said working collaboratively with community groups, local businesses and residents will create trust in the police department and keep crime low. 

    Known for his outsized personality, Bratton was police commissioner under Rudy Giuliani from 1994 to 1996. Bratton emphasized the broken-windows theory of police work — that criminals who commit small crimes, such as vandalism, also commit more serious crimes.

    He said Wednesday he plans to focus resources on the small number of people committing the majority of crimes.

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