Bloomberg: We Should Stop and Frisk More Black People


I have a hard time expressing just how much I loathe New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his latest appalling claim about the NYPD’s blatantly unconstitutional stop and frisk policy are a perfect example why. Despite the massive racial disparities in who gets stopped and frisked, Bloomberg thinks it isn’t quite racist enough yet:

One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying ‘oh it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.’ That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the [crime]. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they’re saying. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.

Really? You stop too many white people? Then why does it turn out that a higher percentage of the white people who are being stopped are found to actually be breaking the law than the black and Latino people you stop? In fact, white people who are stopped and frisked are twice as likely to be found with a gun. Could it be because your officers have to have stronger evidence to become suspicious of a white person while they are automatically suspicious of a dark-skinned person? Not only is that conclusion logical, it is supported by a mountain of social psychological research too. The pattern is the same all over the country and study after study has confirmed this. The traffic stops of black, white and Latino people are in almost exactly the inverse proportion of their population numbers yet the white people who are stopped are usually more likely to be found doing something illegal.

A study of stops by the New Jersey State Police on the New Jersey Turnpike, for example, found that 15% of the drivers on the turnpike were minorities, but blacks were 42% of those stopped for a traffic violation and 72% of those subsequently arrested — despite the fact that blacks and whites were equally as likely to be violating traffic laws at the time. 77% of all searches were of minorities. A similar study in Maryland found that 17% of drivers on a major highway were black, but 70% of those stopped and searched were black. For minorities on the whole, they constituted 21% of all drivers but 80% of those who were stopped and searched.

But here’s the even more important finding. In both of those studies, whites who were pulled over and searched were actually more likely to have illegal drugs or contraband in their vehicles. In New Jersey, whites were twice as likely to be found with illegal drugs or contraband than blacks and five times more likely than Latinos. The same thing held true in Maryland. The courts should have ended this nonsense long ago.

Comments

  1. says

    How about we amend that practice; for every frisk of an innocent the officer gets a mark on his record. Couple this with official commendations for those with the highest percentages of charges filed. IOW, encourage thoughtful policing with an eye for actual criminals rather than meat-grinder policies that catch crooks by accident.

  2. says

    Why stop at frisking? White people are far more likely to be in trouble with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission than other racial groups. The police should be allowed the bank records and other financial documents of white people without a warrant. It’s not racism. It’s just reality.

  3. abear says

    Wealthy people largely based in New York nearly caused a global financial meltdown a few years ago.
    I wonder if Mayor Bloomberg would agree with Holytape @4 on this issue and get down to some really useful profiling, perhaps starting with wealthy Jews and then proceeding to go after rich people of other backgrounds?

  4. jonathangray says

    EB:

    why does it turn out that a higher percentage of the white people who are being stopped are found to actually be breaking the law than the black and Latino people you stop? In fact, white people who are stopped and frisked are twice as likely to be found with a gun. Could it be because your officers have to have stronger evidence to become suspicious of a white person while they are automatically suspicious of a dark-skinned person?

    Could it be because, as Bloomberg says, “it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the [crime]”? It may be true that “a higher percentage of the white people who are being stopped are found to actually be breaking the law than the black and Latino people” — but it could still be true that certain non-white ethnic groups commit a disproportionate number of certain types of crime.

    abear:

    I wonder if Mayor Bloomberg would agree with Holytape @4 on this issue and get down to some really useful profiling, perhaps starting with wealthy Jews

    I believe Jobbik suggested something of the sort in Hungary. I don’t think you’re allowed to say that here, though.

  5. baal says

    We could go to a standard of say an articulatable probable cause that a crime was committed rather than a population level screen.

  6. zmidponk says

    @jonathangray:

    Your response is wrong on so many levels, it’s practically a fractal set of wrongness.

    Let’s work from the outside in.

    1) Let’s suppose everything you said was true. Minorities are committing more of these ‘certain types of crime’, and these crimes are of a nature that stopping and frisking people is entirely appropriate to tackle them. You’re still wrong, as can be seen by the simple fact that a greater percentage of white people are being caught by this stop and frisk policy than minorities, so these minority criminals are getting away with it, by and large.

    2) Next level in – from what I can tell, though you haven’t given many clues, these ‘certain types of crime’ are things like home invasions. How does targetting minorities with a ‘stop and frisk’ policy address this? It simply doesn’t, so it’s an inappropriate response to this fact, even if it were true.

    3) Next level in – your evidence that it’s primarily minorities that commit these crimes seems to be a single news report talking about one particularly vicious and brutal home invasion that happens to have been committed by a black person. Where’s your evidence that this kind of thing is committed more by minorities than white people? You also fail to explain what, precisely, you are talking about – is it specifically home invasions, or are you lumping other things in there?

    4) Next level in – the basic fact that a greater percentage of white people stopped are being found to actually be guilty of something than minorities stopped, yet it’s minorities that are being targetted, and Bloomberg thinks they should be targetted even more. Your entire post seems to be an attempt to sidestep this simple fact, but you fail to do so.

  7. abear says

    jonathangray@6; Just so I’m not misunderstood- I’m not advocating that Jewish people be unfairly singled out.
    My point is that Bloomberg may want to consider whether he would like to be treated the way he advocates other groups should be.

  8. jonathangray says

    zmidponk:

    2) & 3)

    Table 42.

    Also.

    1) & 4)

    I’m not suggesting the sort of measures Mr Bloomberg advocates would be an effective response to the perceived problem, merely that one cannot automatically assume the motive for advocating such a response is racist hatred.

  9. zmidponk says

    @jonathangray

    I’m not sure what you think table 42 shows, but you should have a look at table 40. That gives the stats also given in table 42 in a way that is much more relevant to this discussion. That shows that, in 2008, there were 3,652,340 crimes of violence involving a single offender and single victim. Of those, 58.4% were done by white people, 22.8% were done by black people, 6.7% is under ‘other’, leaving 12.1% as ‘unknown race’. I can’t seem to see a table that gives stats for all violent crime, but I’ve only quickly scanned it, so may have missed it.

    As for your second link, that appears from a quick scan to suggest that black people are much more likely to be a murderer or a murder victim than white people, given the relative disparity of population – until you read the small print at the bottom, and realise this table only deals with a certain subset of murders. If you look at the full stats:

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10shrtbl03.xls

    You can see that the ‘unknown race’ figure comes out to not much lower than the ‘white’ or ‘black’ figure, so you can’t really make any firm conclusions.

  10. zmidponk says

    @johnathangray

    I should also point out that you still haven’t really detailed what you mean by ‘certain types of crime’. Are you now meaning all violent crime, as your links suggest?

  11. demonhauntedworld says

    Well, lest anyone think Bloomberg is a RINO, I guess this shows he really is a Republican at heart.

  12. francesc says

    @3 That may be a good test. But I think it would be more effective to hire a white man, buying him a suit and renting an upper-class car. I suspect the probabilities of him being randomly stopped will be close to 0.

  13. Kevin S says

    One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying ‘oh it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.’ That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the [crime].

    But there’s no guarantee that the witnesses are accurate. In fact, people usually make lousy eyewitnesses. Add to that the prejudice–often subliminal–that exists toward black people. And the fact that the best way to cover up crimes if you don’t want to turn in the real perp is to say some black guy did it. Suddenly I don’t want to use victim’s statements as the basis for any public crime policy.

  14. Abdul Alhazred says

    The reason more white folks have guns (among those who are stopped and frisked) is that NYPD cops do understand the concept of “probable cause”, even if they don’t apply it all the time.

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