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Despite drops, number of stop-and-frisks headed toward record high

Fewer than 6 percent of those stopped this summer were arrested

So far this year, New York City Police Department (NYPD) police officers have stopped and frisked more than 1,500 New Yorkers a day on average, and are heading toward searching more people in 2011 than in any year since a federal judge first required the department to disclose its practices seven years ago.

Today the NYPD released quarterly data showing that its officers stopped and searched 152,311 individuals under the controversial policy between July 1 and Sept 30 — 30,000 fewer than in the previous three-month reporting period.

Since January, NYPD officers have filed 514,461 reports under the policy the department calls “stop, question and frisk.”

Although the latest data shows a drop in the number stops and searches from the prior quarter, the number of incidents in the first nine months of the year is still almost equal with that of all searches in 2008, when police stopped 531,159 New Yorkers. In 2010, NYPD officers stopped and questioned 601,055 people.

Civil liberties advocates have criticized the NYPD’s practice because of low arrest numbers compared to the large volume of stops the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic people searched.

For the third quarter of 2011, police searched 81,092 black people, making up 53 percent of the total – a share of the total 2 points higher than in the previous quarter. Another 32 percent were Hispanic, 8.6 percent white, and 3.2 percent Asian; less than 1 percent were native American. Currently 23 percent of New York City’s population is black, 33 percent white, 29 percent Hispanic (black and white), and 13 percent Asian.

Critics of the policy have labeled it racial profiling. “Stopping and frisking millions of innocent New Yorkers is neither wise nor effective,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn. “We are deeply concerned about this practice and the toll it is taking on law-abiding blacks and Latinos.” An NYPD spokesperson was not available for comment.

In the three months ending September 30, of the 152,311 people stopped, 8,915 were eventually arrested, a slightly lower rate than in the previous quarter where 6.1 percent of those stopped were arrested. To date, police have arrested 31,650 individuals following a stop. The arrest rate has stayed more or less the same since 2004.

Update: In a statement to The New York World, Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD, Paul Browne, said, “Police stops comport proportionately with violent crime and saves lives, mostly of young minority men who are disproportionately the victims of murder and other violent crime.”

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