New York's previously unimaginable status as America's safest big city is now in jeopardy thanks to a rising campaign against its proactive style of policing. In 1994 the New York Police Department, led then by Commissioner William Bratton, embraced the revolutionary concept that the police could actually prevent crime, not just respond to it after the fact.
The department began analyzing victim reports daily to target resources to where crime patterns were emerging. Top brass held commanders accountable for the safety of their precincts. And officers were expected to intervene when they observed someone acting suspiciously--maybe asking the person a few questions, perhaps frisking him if legally justified. In so doing, they sent the message in violence-plagued areas that law and order was still in effect.
Such proactive stops (or "stop-and-frisks") have averted countless crimes. But a chorus of critics, led by the New York Times, charges that the NYPD's policy is racist because the majority of those stopped are black and Hispanic. Every declared Democratic candidate for mayor in 2013 has vowed to eliminate stop-and-frisks or significantly reduce them. A federal judge overseeing a class-action lawsuit against the NYPD has already announced her conviction that the department's stop practices are unconstitutional, the prelude to putting the department under judicial control.
Back in the days when we were allowed to instruct juries with presumptions, we told them that people are presumed to intend the natural consequences of their voluntary acts. Do the ACLU and left-wing politicians actually intend to increase crime? That is certainly the consequence of the policies they promote.