Street stops by the New York Police Department are about as effective for women as for men—that is, they turn up very few guns—but as The New York Times illustrates in a Tuesday report, they often feel a lot more intrusive. As The Times' Wendy Ruderman reports, The NYPD's policy is gender-blind, unlike the TSA's, which requires a same-gendered officer for pat-downs, so women who get stopped as part of New York's controversial stop-and-frisk program often find male officers' hands running along their waists, groins, and armpits (areas where training guidelines say weapons are often hidden) and sometimes rummaging through their purses. This creeps many women out, for example in the case of a woman who was stopped while police were looking for a male rape suspect, according to Ruderman:
"They tapped around the waistline of my jeans," Ms. Pope said. “They tapped the back pockets of my jeans, around my buttock. It was kind of disrespectful and degrading. It was uncalled-for. It made no sense. How are you going to stop three females when you are supposedly looking for a male rapist?”
That does sound pretty unpleasant, especially when you consider how few guns officers find through stop-and-frisk. "Last year, New York City police officers stopped 46,784 women, frisking nearly 16,000. Guns were found in 59 cases, according to an analysis of police statistics by The New York Times. While the number of women stopped by officers in 2011 represented 6.9 percent of all police stops, the rate of guns found on both men and women was equally low, 0.12 percent and 0.13 percent, respectively," Ruderman writes. Street stops, which are heavily criticized for unfairly targeting people of color, have decreased this year as the city has faced extra scrutiny.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.