NYPD head attacks ruling on police stops

Says minority communities will be harmed

New York Police Department officers patrolled the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn last week.
Michael Appleton/The New York Times
New York Police Department officers patrolled the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn last week.

NEW YORK — Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly assailed a federal judge’s finding of racial discrimination and demand for changes to his department’s stop-and-frisk practice, telling a Sunday news show that minority communities will be ‘‘the losers’’ if the ruling is not overturned.

During interviews on three shows, Kelly also raised questions about the judge’s call to try outfitting officers with tiny video cameras. Throughout, he faulted the judge’s reasoning and defended the New York Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk as legal and life-saving.

‘‘The losers in this, if this case is allowed to stand, are people who live in minority communities,’’ he said on CBS’s ‘‘Face the Nation.’’


He noted that 97 percent of shooting victims are black or Hispanic, reasoned that similar demographics apply if a stop deters a killing, and added that there have been more than 7,300 fewer killings in the 11 full years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure so far than in the 11 years before.

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‘‘Things are going right here in New York. And this decision certainly has the potential of overturning it,’’ Kelly said on ABC News’ ‘‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos.’’

Commissioner Raymond Kelly supported stop-and-frisk policy.

If stop-and-frisk were abandoned, ‘‘no question about it —violent crime will go up,’’ he said on NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press.’’

Over the past decade, police have stopped, questioned, and sometimes patted down about 5 million people; 87 percent were black or Hispanic, groups that make up 54 percent of the city population. About 10 percent of the stops spur an arrest or summons. Police find weapons a fraction of the time.

US District Judge Shira Scheindlin declared Monday that at least 200,000 stops were made without reasonable suspicion and that the NYPD’s practice is intentionally racially biased. The city plans to appeal.


Kelly said Sunday Scheindlin’s ruling rested on mistaken logic. He said the racial and ethnic makeup of those stopped should be compared to and reliably mirror that of crime suspects, not the population at large. The judge called that approach wrong ‘‘because the stopped population is overwhelmingly innocent — not criminal.’’

Kelly and Bloomberg have made the same point before, and civil rights and minority advocates have deplored it, particularly after Bloomberg said in June that ‘‘we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.’’

Kelly’s remarks Sunday brought a rebuke from NAACP president Benjamin Jealous.

‘‘Just because there are more murders in our community doesn’t mean that you can treat all of us like we are guilty. . . . He’s just way off base,’’ Jealous said on ‘‘Meet the Press.’’

Scheindlin appointed a monitor to oversee various changes, including a one-year test that could put video cameras in more than 1,000 officers’ lapels or eyeglasses.


Kelly suggested Sunday the cameras could be problematic when police respond to domestic arguments or when someone wants to provide confidential information.

After years of burnishing a reputation as one of the nation’s most potent police forces, the New York Police Department is about to become one of the most closely monitored departments in the nation.

In addition to Scheindlin’s ruling last week, city lawmakers are readying for a final vote Thursday on creating an inspector general for the NYPD and widening the legal path for pursuing claims of police bias.

The actions may end up meaning little on the street, depending on who is asked. But from any perspective, it would be the onset of a new era of oversight for the country’s biggest police department, although political forces may affect the outcome.

The federal ruling outlines but does not detail reforms, and the city plans to appeal it. The City Council, if it succeeds in overriding a mayoral veto, would establish a monitor but not select the person or specify exactly what gets investigated. And a new mayor will take office next year, which could well mean new police leadership.

Some other police forces, including the Los Angeles Police Department, also have had both court monitoring and an inspector general.