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NYPD 'stop and frisks' more common for blacks

June 18, 2003

Police statistics show that black New Yorkers have been stopped on the street by cops far more frequently than any racial or ethnic group last year.

According to the figures - which come from the NYPD and were recently given to the City Council as mandated by law - during the six months between January and June 2002, 45,577 people were stopped and frisked by officers. Of them, 20,884 or about 45 percent were black.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told NY1 television yesterday that the number of "stop and frisks," as they are called, paralleled the number of criminal complaints received by the NYPD.

"The ethnicity of the people stopped, questioned and possibly searched mirrors the description of perpetrators of crime committed in the city," Kelly said.

Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens), Public Safety Committee chairman, echoed Kelly's position, saying the number of stops was a reflection of the descriptions of perpetrators given to the police.

"This information should go a long way to dispel the myth of racial profiling," he said.

Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union disagreed, saying people who are stopped by police are generally not stopped because of a complaint.

He said that the Civilian Complaint Review Board reported that two-thirds of such stops were made on the basis of officer observation and only one-third were prompted by complaints.

"The demographics of complaints cannot explain the racial disparities of stop and frisk because most stop and frisks are not prompted by complaints," Dunn said.

The stop-and-frisk disclosures emanated from the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant who was shot 19 times in 1999 by four officers from the Street Crime Unit.

A subsequent investigation by the state attorney general's office concluded that the department practiced racial profiling.

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.