No Rise Out of Stop and Frisk
July 26, 2010
Is police commissioner Ray Kelly being proactive or provocative after his stop-and-frisk databank was legislated out of existence?
Hours after Gov. David Paterson signed the law barring the NYPD from keeping computerized records of people stopped but not charged, Kelly announced the department would instead maintain paper records of that information and keep them at local precincts for squad detectives.
In addition, Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne told the Wall Street Journal that the department would flood the Brownsville section of Brooklyn — Ground Zero of the databank fight — with at least 200 more cops to combat a 46 per cent spike of shootings there.
This appears to be as much an ego as a policing move because, as the Journal noted, “Recent newspaper articles have been critical of the number of times people in Brownsville have been stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked by police officers .…”
One such article that appeared in the New York Times was probably the final nail in the databank’s coffin. The article — which relied on computer analysis from raw data supplied by Kelly’s arch-enemy, the Civil Liberties Union — calculated that, over the past four years, police had made a whopping 52,000 stop-and-frisks in an eight-block area of Brownsville, an average of 93 stops a year for every 100 residents. Men aged 15 to 34 were stopped an average of five times a year. More than 88 per cent of the stops resulted in no arrests or summonses.
If Kelly thought his latest moves might get a rise from his databank opponents, he was wrong.
Chris Dunn of the Civil Liberties Union said his group supported the precinct paper filings because “There is some sense that detective squads can use the information in a specifically targeted way.
“That’s not the same thing as punching in the names of every black guy from a database, which allows them [the police] to target a huge number of innocent people in an indiscriminate way.”
As for flooding Brownsville with cops, the Journal quoted Brownsville State Senate Majority Leader John Sampson, who backed the databank dismemberment and whose district includes Brownsville:
“We support strong policing and smart politics that help drive down crime and protect our citizens.”
Arthur Browne, a Pulitzer-prize-winning writer who actually leaves his office to back up his editorials with old-fashioned reporting, is so strong a databank supporter that some say he was first — ahead of the News’s own police reporters — to receive a copy of an NYPD report of 170 crimes that Kelly claimed were solved due to the databank. [Some suspicious people actually think that Browne’s kindred spirit with the same last name was the one who sent it.]
Kelly thought so much of the report, which included summaries of 17 murders, 36 robberies and eight sex crimes, that he showed it to the governor in a last-ditch effort to save the databank.
The News then editorialized: “The NYPD has an investigative tool that produced at least 170 arrests over the past 18 months… It is a roaring public safety success — and Gov. Paterson must guarantee its survival.”
The Times, however, which analyzed many of those cases, concluded that “the summaries provide strong evidence that the stop-and-frisk data played a less than essential role — and sometimes no role at all.”
It cited one case in which Kelly argued that the databank was key to solving a June 4th Brownsville murder, where a man leapt from a car in broad daylight and fired into a van, killing the driver. After witnesses provided the suspect’s name, police discovered that he had been stopped nearby two days earlier, according to the databank summary.
But as the Times noted, “[T]he summary states: ‘Computer checks on the name further revealed a violent criminal history with an address in Brownsville. … Though the governor did not refer to this case specifically, it was one of many examples in Mr. Kelly’s summary in which it was hard to see how the database played a ‘breakthrough role.’”
The News, however, remained unmoved, even after Paterson ended the databank.
“By barring the department from entering names and addresses into an electronic file,” it editorialized last Thursday, “the new law will also prevent the police from using information to identify witnesses to crimes, as well as potential perpetrators. In the last 18 months, police say, the data have contributed to 170 arrests, including for murders, robberies and burglaries.”
The fact that 90 per cent of people stopped are people of color would have had Al Sharpton shouting to beat the band had the databank been started under Rudy Giuliani.
But, as this practice proliferated under Sharpton’s supposedly old friend Ray Kelly and his new friend, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sharpton has taken a powder.
So where might the Rev. have been hiding during this period?
1] On Martha’s Vineyard, vacationing with former president Clinton?
2] On the Gulf Coast, vacationing with President Obama and his family?
3] In Bermuda, at Bloomberg’s second [or third or fourth or fifth] home, having been flown down there by Mayor Mike himself?
4] Somewhere in Brooklyn or Manhattan, having grits with Kelly?
The DiTommaso brothers were the guys whom former police commissioner Kerik fingered as having paid for $165,000 in renovations to his Bronx apartment. Kerik is doing four years in federal prison for, among other crimes, accepting such pricey freebies as these.
That case began before a Bronx grand jury, where the DiTommasos testified they never paid for Kerik’s apartment renovations. This led to perjury charges against them, since Bernie claimed the opposite.
Copyright © 2010 Leonard Levitt