Reported by Ashley Naples
It’s no secret that race relations between NYPD and Black and Hispanic residents is tarnished. One reason is due to the controversial “stop and frisk” law that allows an officer to conduct a limited pat-down search of a person’s body. The procedure originated from the Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio in 1968. It is supposedly justified when an officer has established reasonable suspicion. According to attorney Bahiya Lawrence, reasonable suspicion is formed when an officer, based on their experience, background, training, and knowledge, combined with articulable facts and circumstances, witnesses conduct which leads them to believe that criminal activity is afoot. The officer can then proceed to frisk (pat-down) the individual if they believe the person is armed and poses a present and immediate danger. The purpose of the pat-down is to find any contraband/weapons on the individual. Also, the pat-down is supposed to be on the outer-layer of the individual’s clothing.
Sadly though, the procedure is disproportionately performed on Blacks and Hispanics than any other ethnic group in the city. A whistleblower even secretly recorded his superior instructing him to target Blacks when performing the procedure. Civil Rights leaders such as Dr. Cornel West, Rev. Al Sharpton, and others have been highly critical of the procedure and have raised awareness about its negative effects in poor, predominantly Black communities. A recent study links the procedure to trauma.
NY Mayor Bill De Blasio appointed Bill Bratton, a Black 28-year-veteran of the force, to reform the practice. Bratton was sworn in as head of the NYPD in January; however, he has suddenly resigned which has concerned some. Here’s more information:
When Bill Bratton was sworn in as head of the New York Police Department in January, he pledged to improve relations between New Yorkers of color and “every member” of his department.
The abrupt resignation of the department’s highest-ranking black official on Friday may make that task harder.
NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks, a 28-year veteran of the force, walked away after rejecting a promotion. The Daily News, citing anonymous sources, reported that Banks feared the promotion “would bury him behind a desk.”
Bratton told reporters on Friday that he and Banks never fought over policy, saying “we were very simpatico in the understanding that the culture of the department needed to be reshaped” — a clear reference to tense relations with communities of color.
But some observers raised an eyebrow at the claim that Bank’s resignation had nothing to do with the department’s handling of race. “Most likely, his conscience took the best of him,” said Damon Jones, the local representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, a group that advocates for black officers. “I applaud him.”
Bratton became commissioner amid outrage over the department’s stop-and-frisk policy, which critics say inflicted disproportionate harm on young blacks and Latinos who had done nothing wrong. Mayor Bill De Blasio, who appointed Bratton, pledged to reform the practice. So far, he and Bratton appear to have made good on that promise, as the number of stop-and-frisk encounters has dramatically declined.