Racial Profiling in Brooklyn, NY: Where Stop-And-Frisk Leads to Community Mistrust

So anyway, about that “reasonable suspicion” thing again? Umm, yeah, see how that works? Of course I’m willing to bet nothing like this occurs on the Upper West Side of Manhattan as it does out in Brownsville, my old stomping grounds, where my family dwells. Ironically, on a recent visit to I was stopped and frisked outside of my mother’s building on Snediker Av., just as I was saying goodbye as I was preparing to leave the city and head back out of town. The New York Times recently ran a report on this not so new phenomenon out in East New York.

The report spanned a four year period, and it was discovered that approximately 52,000 people were stopped in an eight block radius. Of which, one percent of the stops resulted in arrest, and cops were able to recover twenty six guns. I don’t know about you, but this sounds more like operation let’s-give-niggers-a-hard-time, as opposed to effective policing; especially when crime in New York is drastically down.

This from the NYT:
Some former officers who worked the area say the stops seem less geared to bringing down crime than feeding the department’s appetite for numbers — a charge police officials steadfastly deny. Though none said they were ever given quotas to hit, all but two said that certain performance measures were implicitly expected in their monthly activity reports. Lots of stop-and-frisk reports suggested a vigilant officer.

“When I was there the floor number was 10 a month,” one officer said. Like many of the officers interviewed for this article, he asked not to be identified because he was still in law enforcement and worried that being seen as critical of the New York department could hurt his future employment opportunities.

He said if you produced 10 stops — known as a UF-250 for the standardized departmental reports the stops generate — you were not likely to draw the attention of a supervisor. “And in all fairness,” he said, “if you’re working in that area, 10 a month is very low. All you have to do is open your eyes.” But of course this type of thing happens everyday across the country and is not exclusive to Brooklyn, NYC. However, what was even more ridiculous about the stop-and-frisk practice in Brooklyn. Was the fact that cops took the names of every person stopped regardless of arrest and created a database, which as they said, would be an effective tool to help solve future crimes.

Recently, New York Gov. David Paterson signed new legislation which terminates the practice of collecting the names of individuals stopped by the police. However, unfortunately, the stop-and-frisk practice is still allowed to continue. One can only hope that House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers’ End to Racial Profiling Act (HR 5748), which was introduced on July 15th, 2010 picks up some steam to end this practice.

In communities of color where  mistrust of the police has long been the order of the day for its residents. It doesn’t help matters when racial profiling is sanctioned by police departments, and by extension, the jurisdictions who govern them. Effective policing of our communities requires mutual cooperation and respect. And there’s no way this can be accomplished if we turn a blind eye to the practice of racial profiling.