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Urban Affairs


Assessing the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk Policies

April 2010

Stop and Frisk

From left to right: John Timoney, Jeremy Travis, Jeffrey Fagan, Tracey Mears, Heather Mac Donald.  Photo by Joseph A. Rosen

On March 9, the City Bar’s Council on Criminal Justice and Committee on Civil Rights, along with John Jay College of Criminal Justice, hosted a panel discussion on the NYPD's "Stop-and-Frisk" policy, entitled, “The New York Police Department’s Stop-and-Frisk Policies: Are They Effective? Fair? Appropriate?”  A standing-room-only crowd of over 250 guests in the Meeting Hall heard compelling a discussion on the impacts of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

The panel was moderated by Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay, and included Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia Law School Professor; Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute; Tracey Mears, Deputy Dean of Yale Law School; and John Timoney, former head of the Miami and Philadelphia police departments and First Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD.  The viewpoints were diverse: Travis and Mears had worked together on several papers arguing against the policy, MacDonald presented statistical support for the policy, and Timoney provided the audience with concerns from the perspective of law enforcement. 

The event came just weeks after the NYPD released its data on the number of New Yorkers stopped by officers on the streets in 2009.  The data showed that 2009 broke the record with 575,000 people stopped and searched for suspicious behavior.  The number of stops has been growing, while the number of arrests made by the NYPD has been falling.  John Jay’s Center on Race, Crime and Justice released an analysis of the NYPD’s numbers concurrent with the event, titled, “Stop, Question & Frisk Policing Practices in New York City: A Primer.”  You can find the primer here.

Stop and FriskStop and Frisk

Above, Left: The crowd in the packed room; Above, Right: John Timoney speaks about his experiences in the police departments of three major cities. Photos by Joseph A. Rosen