Ray Kelly: "The Stop-and-Frisk Case Cries Out for Appeal"

As the end of his term approaches, the New York City police commissioner discusses the controversial tactic.

Last month, NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactic was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin. She argued that the strategy of stopping people on the street and occasionally searching them for concealed weapons or other illicit items was an indirect form of racial profiling. At The Atlantic's CityLab summit on Tuesday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly offered some statistics of his own to counter the judge's characterization. 

“In 2006, RAND said that the most appropriate criterion to determine whether racial profiling is ongoing is the descriptions given by the victims of violent crime of the perpetrators of violent crime," Kelly said. "In that case, 70 to 75 percent of the perpetrators of violent crimes are identified as being African American – black. And our stops traditionally have been about 53 percent African American. Our stops obviously comport with the description of violent crime.”

In other words, Kelly seems to be defending the policy by saying that regular people are more racist than the NYPD. For those who have followed this issue, though, his full argument is worth a listen. Among other things, he says the ruling "cries out for appeal." But, he says, "it may not be appealed because of the city's change in administration. I believe that would be a major mistake."

 

Emma Green is the assistant managing editor of TheAtlantic.com, where she also writes about religion and culture.

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