It's Hard to Ignore Race in New York's Police Street Stop Totals

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In another bit of negative Ray Kelly-related news that doesn't involve Islamophobia, the New York Police Department has announced a record number of on-the-street "stop-and-frisks" in 2011 with the overwhelming majority of them for black and hispanic males. The use of the very controversial and questionably constitutional police tactic of stopping, questioning, and then sometimes patting down citizens has been recorded by the NYPD since 2002. (As The Wall Street Journal explains, such encounters are often called "stop-and-frisks" even when no pat-down or search is done, which according to the paper is about half the time.) 

And at 684,330 stop-frisks in last year, a 14 percent jump from 2010, it's the most ever. Some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations show that those several hundred thousand represent about 8.4 percent of the city's population. But if you live in New York, whether you are or are not among that segment may have something to do with -- you guessed it --your race and gender. "Males made up 92% of the stops, 87% of the total were either black or Hispanic and whites were 9%." Hard stats for the many observers to forget when a police spokesperson tells reporters, "Stops save lives." Especially when they can point out the police department's ugly and recent racism.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.