The Rockaway Beat
Proactive policing – stop and frisk and vertical patrols in the public housing complexes in Rockaway – have saved the lives of 5,600 New York City residents over the past ten years.
And, most of them who were “saved” by proactive policing were black and Hispanic men.
I can make those declarative statements because I know them to be true.
Take a look at the statistics.
More than 60 percent of those who are killed in New York City each year are black. Another 26 percent are Hispanic. Eighty percent of them are male.
During the 1980s and 1990s, there were more than 2,000 murders each year. There have been fewer than 500 each year during the new decade.
Officials figure that the murders not committed in the past decade number more than 5,600.
If the statistics hold true, there are thousands of black and Hispanic men walking around today because of the proactive policing program in the past decade.
And, therein lies the rub.
It is black and Hispanic advocacy groups that are loudest in calling for an end to proactive policing.
Those groups argue that the police have stopped someone on the street and checked them for weapons or other contraband 685,724 times in the past year and that the great percentage of those who are stopped are black and Hispanic – a gigantic number that is hard to get your mind around.
Opponents say that the stop and frisk program is a failure because, in all those hundreds of thousands of stop, only 780 guns were confiscated.
Only 780 guns.
Some would say that’s a paltry number. I don’t. Think of the possibilities of 780 guns in the hands of those who have no problems with using them to shoot at innocent citizens and you will understand why 780 guns are not insignificant.
Now, you will probably say that, being white and elderly, I was probably not ever stopped by police and never suffered the indignity of being patted down because of my color.
You would be right.
I was picked up once by police when I was a pre-teen for shooting an arrow through the window of the shuttered Manor Hotel on Seagirt Boulevard.
It’s probably not the same as being stopped and checked by police simply because some other black person committed a crime or because some cop thought that the bulge made by my cell phone might well be a gun.
While the program’s detractors look at the low number of guns recovered as a sign that it is a failure, the mayor and his police commissioner say that the low number of guns taken shows that the program is a great success because it shows that gun thugs are afraid to carry their pieces in public because they might well be stopped and frisked at any time.
As ultra-liberal Far Rockaway High School graduate Richard Cohen said in a recent column, “The proof in this case is not the number of guns seized, but the number of bodies not taken to the morgue. Bloomberg has a point.”
Cohen goes on to say, however, that stopping citizens because they are young and either black or Hispanic raised “profound civil liberties issues and clearly alienates elements of the minority group community.”
So, there is the question.
Does the fact that thousands of lives have been saved counterbalance the indignity of people being stopped without any real probable cause?
That’s a question you and everybody else has to answer for him or herself.
For me, however, the answer is clear. Proactive policing saves lives, not only in the minority community, but in any community where some thug is carrying a gun and happens to feel like shooting it off.
For me, that is the bottom line and nothing else matters.
Think about it.
The great majority of crime in this city is perpetrated by minority males. All you have to do to understand the depth of that truth is to listen for a few days to the police band scanner.
There are a lot of calls that come over that scanner each day and nights – calls from civilians to the 911 system that then get passed on by the operators at MetroTech in Brooklyn to the patrol units in the two Rockaway precincts, to the EMS and the fire department.
Time after time, the call to the patrol units is “Perp is black male, teen or early 20’s, wearing hoodie, jeans and a baseball cap.”
Is it any wonder then, that black males are stopped and searched by the police?
And, not only are the criminals more likely than not to be black, the victims are as well.
Blacks comprise 23 percent of the population, but 62 percent of the murder victims and 59 percent of the murder suspects.
Those are the numbers we should be focusing on, not the useless statistic of the number of stops.
As many have pointed out, over the year, some known bad actors are stopped multiple times each day. One thug can account for hundreds of stops.
Those stops are proactive policing at its best and those “politically correct” politicians who believe they can use the numbers for their own election campaign next year ought to look elsewhere for an issue.
They can pander to the crowd as much as they want, but citizens, both minority and non-minority know the real deal – that what the police are doing saves lives.