Over the years, as the NYPD implemented their controversial ‘stop and frisk’ practices, robbery and burglary rates plummeted. While you may have heard top officials relating the two—suggesting the stop and frisks were causing the drop, there was little causal evidence to connect them. Now, however, a study in Justice Quarterly indicates there is evidence to show once and for all if the stop and frisk practices are responsible for plummeting burglary and robbery rates.
The findings indicate stop and frisk has had little role on the reduction.
According to The Crime Report, the study analyzed stop and frisks, arrests, precinct conditions like vacant housing and racial composition, and compared these things with the robbery and burglary rates. Though the rates of these two offenses have fallen dramatically with the equally dramatic rise in stop and frisks, the two can’t be connected.
“If there is an impact, it is so localized and dissipates so rapidly that it fails to register in annual precinct crime rates, much less the decade-long citywide crime reductions that public officials have attributed to the policy,” researchers say.
So, what does this mean? It means that when the cops stop and frisk someone, they might prevent a crime from happening right there, where they are standing, because who is really dumb enough to commit a robbery right in front of the police. But, as soon as the cops finish their business and move on, the street is back to business as usual.
The crime prevention effects of stop and frisk are extremely “localized” and fleeting, and cannot be the cause of the falling crime rates across the city.
This may come as a surprise to some police agencies around the country who have eyed New York’s stop and frisk policy as a possible crime reduction tool in their own city, as the practice has certainly been a topic of contention all over. Cops and city officials, of course, support it while citizens do not. And why should they? The police shouldn’t be able to stop you with flimsy suspicion that a crime has taken or is taking place. They should only be able to do this with probable cause. Instead, the NYPD has stopped countless New Yorkers, particularly minority men, with little justification but their appearance and the neighborhood they were found in.
The police aren’t always known for their effective tactics. Instead, many of their practices are purely reactionary and often the result of simply wanting to boost the number of arrests they make. When you are the person on the other end of the handcuffs, this is far from comforting news.