Six Bogus Things Bloomberg Said About Stop & Frisk


Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo gathered at City Hall to excoriate the recent federal decision ruling the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy... In addition to making a slew of ad hominem attacks against the judge in the case, complaining of bias, and pledging to appeal the decision, Mayor Bloomberg made a string of observations that struck us as misleading, irreverent, or downright false. When a mayoral aide holding the microphone blushed at Mayor Bloomberg's unnecessary disparagement of a reporter who asked a legitimate question, the City blushed with him.

The mayor's comments are in italics.

1) It's The Constitution, Stupid

"Throughout the trial that just concluded, the judge made it clear she was not at all interested in the crime reductions here or how we achieved them. In fact, nowhere in her 195-page decision does she mention the historic cuts in crime or the number of lives that have been saved."

As Michael Powell points out, Judge Scheindlin mentions the importance of a safer New York in the very first sentence of her opinion. But "historic cuts in crime" aren't supposed to factor in to her decision, because it is based on whether or not the policy, as practiced by the NYPD, violates the Constitution. On Page 2 of her opinion, Judge Scheindlin writes,

"I emphasize at the outset, as I have throughout the litigation, that this case is not about the effectiveness of stop and frisk in deterring or combating crime. This Court’s mandate is solely to judge the constitutionality of police behavior, not its effectiveness as a law enforcement tool. Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime—preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example—but because they are unconstitutional they cannot be used, no matter how effective. [Emphasis ours]

2) Stop & Frisk Would Have Been Fine, If It Weren't For Those Meddling "Advocates"

"But one small group of advocates—and one judge—conducted their own investigation. And it was pretty clear from the start which way it would turn out."

To say that the only people who have fundamental problems with the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk are the "small" group of advocates and plaintiffs who filed this case is obviously false.

Arguably the first person to conduct a major investigation of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices was Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in 1999 [PDF], a report that the NYPD's top uniformed officer admitted at trial that he didn't bother to read. Judge Scheindlin quotes the report in her ruling:

The investigation was prompted in part by the Attorney General’s finding that despite a decade of falling crime rates, “the climate in many of New York’s minority neighborhoods . . . was one of resentment and distrust of the NYPD.” Many of the complaints involved “lower-level police involvement in the everyday lives of minority residents,” such as stop and frisk encounters.

Sound familiar?

3) NYPD Oversight Will Force Police Officers To Perform "Who's On First?" Routine With Fatal Results

"We have enough problems now. When you're a police officer you have to know what orders to follow. If somebody pulls a gun and you want to get home to your family, you don't have time to say, 'Now wait a second, the Commissioner said one thing, the monitor said another, and the IG said another.' By that time, you're dead. And I'd like to see you go to the funeral and explain to the family why their son or husband or father is not coming home."

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