I watched the CSPAN coverage tonight (04/17/2012) of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Racial Profiling. There were questions from Mr. Blumenthal to a panel, which included Mr. Anthony Romero of the ACLU. Mr. Romero made a big deal out of the 2011 NYC police stop statistics. He said that 88% of the people stopped were innocent, and that of those innocent people stopped, 53% were black, 39% were Latino and 9% were white. He said that this clearly shows that the police are harassing people of color for no reason. That’s his side of the story.
As the beloved, late Paul Harvey used to say, “And now, the rest of the story!” I did an Xfinity search on “NYC police 2011 arrest statistics” and found this page: (http://www.nyc.gov/nypd/downloads/pdf/analysis_and_planning/enforcement_report_1st_6_months_2011.pdf)
It is the “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City (Jan, 1 – June 30, 2011)” report, and according to it, the police have been doing a damned fine job of getting criminals off the street with the methods they have been using.
My analysis of the figures in that report for arrests for serious crimes, that is murder, rape and robbery, shows that of the 6,390 arrests for those crimes, the suspect was black 56.5% of the time and the arrestee was black 53.3% of the time. The suspect was Hispanic (white/black Latino) 32.5% of the time and the arrestee was Hispanic 36.6% of the time. The suspect was white 7.8% of the time and the arrestee was white 6.1% of the time. Those percentages of people arrested for crimes, broken down by race, are so close to the percentages of innocent people stopped, broken down by race, that they show the police are using excellent judgment in selecting people to stop. If that’s profiling, then it’s working. Their job is to stop crime, and if that involves stopping innocent people, so be it.
Mr. Romero would have had a fine complaint, indeed, if those arrest statistics showed that blacks and Latinos had been stopped excessively, but had very rarely been arrested. Since the exact opposite is true, and the percentages of innocent people stopped by race, mirrors the percentages of people arrested, by race, I can’t help but find Mr. Romero to be painting the NYC police with a very unfair and false brush in his characterization of them as racial profilers. If they’re stopping too many innocent people that is a separate discussion. The report shows that they are stopping people in the correct racial percentages, overall.
The whole perception of racial profiling looks to me to be more of a public relations problem than a case of evil intentions. The problem, as I see it, is that according to the P.C. default standards we’ve adopted; the police are prevented from being honest with the people we stop. They should just be able to tell anyone that turned out to be doing nothing wrong, “Sorry for the inconvenience. We’ve had a lot of serious crimes being committed in this area by (black or Hispanic as the case may be) people, so you can see why I was concerned when you (fill in the suspicious action that triggered the stop) just now”, and we should let it go at that. There is always some secondary reason for the stop. They don’t stop everybody. Some of us jump all over our police departments when innocent people are inconvenienced, but we all crucify them when they take too long to catch the bad guys, or stop them and then let them go by mistake. It’s time to realize that stopping crime involves stopping innocent people, too. I’d feel a lot safer in NYC now than I would have just a few short years ago. That is a direct result of the good job the police are doing. The ACLU might just do well to look into why innocent people of all races get their rights violated by black and Hispanic criminals excessively in NYC. That's not their job, you say? Then the least they can do is to get out of the way and let the police do their job without patently false and groundless accusations.