New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that he would implement reforms to the police department’s controversial stop-and-risk program — reforms that a judge had ordered while previous mayor Michael Bloomberg was still in office.
“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” de Blasio said at a press conference. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”
Last August, a federal judge ruled that the stop-and-frisk tactics — a marquee policy of the Bloomberg administration — violated the constitutional rights of minorities. As this excellent interactive graphic from radio station WNYC shows, the majority of stop-and-frisks do, in fact, occur in neighborhoods populated largely by minorities. And an investigation from the New York Times found the highest concentration of stop-and-frisk happened in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a majority-black neighborhood in East New York.
This is a huge win for civil rights activists in New York and across the country, as the policy had shown signs of spreading. This summer, for instance, Detroit partnered with Manhattan Institute and the Bratton Group to teach its officers the stop-and-frisk tactics. Activists spoke out against it in September, and de Blasio’s announcement yesterday should not only give Detroit’s police department pause, but may also serve as a notice to other cities that have considered adopting the practice.
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Bill Bradley is based in Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in The Daily, Bloomberg Businessweek, GQ.com and Vanity Fair, among others. Follow him on Twitter @billbradley3.