In an eight block stretch of Brownsville, Brooklyn -- one of the city's most notorious areas for violent crime--- the NYPD's controversial "stop and frisk" policy has been employed at a rate unmatched elsewhere in the New York, resulting in 52,000 searches over the past few years, a published report said today.
Between January, 2006 and March, 2010 the NYPD made nearly 52,000 stops in the eight blocks and three public housing complexes in the area, according to a New York Times report that analyzed data provided by the Police Department and two organizations, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The NYPD's "Stop, Question, Frisk" program allows an officer who "reasonably suspects that a person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a felony" to pat down that person.
The program has supporters who believe it has tamped down crime in dangerous areas and detractors who believe it's an excuse for racial profiling and a violation of civil rights.
According to the NYT, the encounters in Brownsville over the past four years amounts to nearly one stop a year for every one of the 14,000 residents on those eight blocks.
One night, 20 officers surrounded a man outside the Brownsville Houses after he would not let an officer smell the contents of his orange juice container, the newspaper reports.
“I don’t know what too many stops are,” said Deputy Inspector Juanita Holmes, who until recently was in charge of the officers specifically assigned to protect the housing projects. “The stops conducted by us are to address the crime, or the quality-of-life issues," she told the Times.
The encounters yield few arrests, however.
The high number of stops can be explained in part because police can use violations of city Housing Authority rules to justify singling out people for the stop and frisk. For instance, the Housing Authority forbids people from being in housing authority buildings unless they live there or are visiting someone, the newspaper said.
Holmes took command of the housing complexes in 2008, the year after shooting in the developments reached a five-year high. She said over the first six months of this year violent crime was down in almost every category in the five complexes.
Not so outside the developments, where shootings were up 39 percent this year. Law enforcement experts say its hard to draw direct connections between the stop-and-frisk tactic and significant long-term crime reduction. Others believe that the searches could even have a corrosive effect