Stop-and-frisk numbers are down... And so is crime

New figures challenge claims by Bloomberg and NYPD chief that the tactic is a necessary crime-stopper

Published May 7, 2013 1:34PM (EDT)


As the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactic continues to be challenged in a landmark federal court case, new statistics suggest that the controversial and racially skewed practice may not even serve to lower crime rates. According to new figures released by the NYPD, flagged by the Wall Street Journal, the number of stop-and-frisk reports filed by New York City police fell by just over 50 percent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, WSJ notes "overall crime is also down 2.7 percent this year through April 28 with murders leading the way with a 30% decline compared with the same period last year, police data show."

Without conflating correlation with causation, the concurrent drop in stop-and-frisks and crime at the very least prompt skepticism over recent claims made by both Mayor Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly supporting the tactic, as currently deployed, as a necessary crime-stopper. As Capital New York's Azi Paybarah noted Tuesday:

The low crime numbers bolster the Bloomberg administration's already solid crime-fighting credentials, but the concurrent reduction in stop-and-frisk (under pressure) weakens one element of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's argument against critics of the policy. Bloomberg had warned that curtailing stop-and-frisk would mean "guns would be everywhere in our city."

Most of the Democratic candidates for mayor favor a reduced form of stop-and-frisk.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Crime Michael Bloomberg New York Nypd Police Ray Kelly Stop-and-frisk