NYPD officers stopped, questioned and frisked a record number of people during the first three months of the year, a civil liberties group said Tuesday.
A report of police data made public by the New York Civil Liberties Union finds that more than 171,000 people were stopped by police between January and March. The organization says nine out of 10 stops resulted in no charges or citations. Overall, this record number of stops represents a 22 percent increase from 2008.
The NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk program has been the subject of numerous reports and lawsuits alleging it is abusive and contributes to racial profiling. Police maintain it is a valuable tool for keeping people safe, especially in high-crime neighborhoods.
“In just three months, the NYPD stopped enough totally innocent New Yorkers to fill the new Yankee Stadium three times over," said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the NYCLU. "What’s worse is that the disrespect suffered in the stop is not the end of it – these New Yorkers’ personal information is now stored in an NYPD database."
The majority of those stopped were black and Hispanic, and the group says minorities are being singled out. The NYPD says minorities constitute the vast majority of reported crime victims, and police respond where crimes occur.
“The mayor and the Police Department’s top brass must immediately address this racially targeted, counterproductive tactic," Lieberman said. "New Yorkers shouldn’t have to be afraid when they see a police officer walking toward them.”
In the past five years, more than 2 million people have been stopped, according to the report.
An NYPD spokesman said today that a more thorough reaction to the NYCLU's report was pending.