11/21/2007

Study finds no bias in NYPD's aggressive stop-and-frisk policy

By Tom Hays
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department demonstrated no clear racial bias with an aggressive stop-and-frisk policy that resulted last year in more than 500,000 stops of pedestrians, according to a new study.

In the RAND Corp. report released Tuesday, researchers said they found only "small racial differences in the rates of frisk, search, use of force and arrest."

At a news conference, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the NYPD believed it "was important to have a separate, independent review" of the numbers amid complaints that the tactic discriminates against blacks and other minorities.

Civil rights advocates immediately dismissed the findings.

"This report is scandalous," said Christopher Dunn, a lawyer with the New York Civil Liberties Union. "The black community continues to bear the brunt of police stops, blacks continue to be singled out for stops that don't ever result in an arrest and the police department continues its efforts to justify these practices."

The department, the largest in the U.S. with 36,000 officers, commissioned the study after reporting earlier this year that the majority of people stopped last year, 53 percent, were black; 29 percent were Hispanic and 11 percent were white.

However, the raw data "distorts the magnitude and, at times, the existence of racially biased policing," the RAND report said. The study acknowledged that "black pedestrians were stopped at a rate that is 50 percent greater than their representation in the residential census." But it claimed using the census as a benchmark was unreliable because it failed to factor in variables such as a higher arrest rate and more crime suspect descriptions involving minorities.

Police have long denied the allegations of bias, which arrive at a time when crime levels are relatively low.

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