The biggest threat facing minority New Yorkers now is not "over-policing," and certainly not brutal policing. The NYPD has one of the lowest rates of officer shootings and killings in the country; it is recognized internationally for its professionalism and training standards. Deaths such as Garner's are an aberration, which the department does everything it can to avoid. The biggest threat facing minority New Yorkers today is de-policing. After years of ungrounded criticism from the press and advocates, after highly publicized litigation and the passage of ill-considered laws--such as the one making officers financially liable for alleged "racial profiling"--NYPD officers have radically scaled back their discretionary activity. Pedestrian stops have dropped 80 percent citywide and almost 100 percent in some areas. The department is grappling with how to induce officers to use their lawful authority again to stop crime before it happens. Eric Garner's death was a heartbreaking tragedy, but if the unjustified backlash against misdemeanor enforcement takes root and finds a sympathetic audience in Mayor Bill De Blasio, the consequences for all New Yorkers will be even more dire.
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Bill de Blasio won the mayoralty of New York by running a demagogic campaign against the New York Police Department. He has now compounded the injury by dropping the city's appeal of an equally deceitful court opinion that found that the department's stop, question, and frisk practices deliberately violated the rights of blacks and Hispanics. De Blasio may thus have paved the way for a return to the days of sky-high crime rates.
A racial-profiling lawsuit over the New York Police Department's "stop, question and frisk" policies is now in the hands of a judge whose decision is expected within weeks. Many New Yorkers watched the two-and-a-half-month trial nervously, concerned that a ruling against the NYPD by U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin could spell an end to a police practice that helped the city achieve an astonishing drop in violent crime.See also prior posts of March 28, Feb. 13, Jan. 24, and another Jan. 24.
But non-New Yorkers would do well to worry about the case too. A decision against the NYPD would almost certainly inspire similar suits by social-justice organizations against police departments elsewhere. The national trend of declining crime could hang in the balance. And the primary victims of such a reversal would be the inner-city minorities whose safety seems not to figure into attempts to undermine successful police tactics.
Against the charge of racism made with statistics, Kelly notes what I call the Fallacy of the Irrelevant Denominator. Comparing the racial statistics of stops to the general population, it would seem that the police are unfairly targeting minorities. The reality, though, is that the racial statistics are proportional to the perpetrators of violent crime, the correct basis of comparison.
Kelly also explains that the "activists" challenging the policies do not speak for all people of their particular racial groups. Minorities are disproportionately the victims of crime, and many support the policies.
Would a ban on assault weapons have prevented this crime? No, the killer probably used a revolver. Would background checks have helped? Probably not, despite what the expert interviewed in the preceding link says. Extending background checks to gun shows or even to private sales by law-abiding individuals won't stop criminals from getting them through black-market sales or just stealing them. (I am not against background checks. I just don't think they will have a large effect on crime rates.)
So what does work? Mostly measures that are opposed by the same people calling for these ineffective measures. First, locking criminals up works. Jason Meisner of the ChiTrib reports:
The reputed gang member accused of gunning down 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton last month was on the street even though he had been arrested three times in connection with break-ins and trespassing while on probation for a weapons conviction in recent months, the Tribune has learned.
In two of those arrests, including one just 2 1/2 months ago, Cook County probation officials failed to notify prosecutors or the judge that Michael Ward had been arrested on the new misdemeanor charges and allegedly violated his probation.
The head of the county's probation department acknowledged Monday that his office fell short in its responsibilities and vowed to find out what went wrong.
If they hadn't "fallen short" in locking up this criminal, Hadiya would be alive.
Another measure that works is the proactive policing of the kind New York City uses over the vehement opposition of the Politically Correct. Holman Jenkins has this column in the WSJ:
Ligon v. New York challenged a decades-long program that authorizes New York police officers to patrol private buildings for trespassers and other lawbreakers. The Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP) tries to give low-income tenants in high-crime areas the same protection against intruders that wealthy residents of doorman-guarded buildings enjoy. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), however, police officers routinely abuse their power under TAP by stopping and arresting minority residents and their guests on suspicion of trespass without any legal justification.
The NYCLU didn't come close to proving its case. But the litigation's most disturbing failure was its blindness to the realities of inner-city crime.
Debbie McBride has nothing but contempt for the ongoing litigation. McBride is a street-hardened building superintendent in the heart of the South Bronx zone targeted by the NYCLU. When asked about TAP, also known as the Clean Halls program, she doesn't mince words. "I love it!" she roars. "I'm serious, I love it. Me being a woman, I feel safe. I can get up at 4 AM and start working."
Famed lawman William Bratton was pilloried by hundreds of Oakland activists who fear he will bring "stop-and-frisk" tactics to the city.
But they're already here.
In fact, the practice is widely used by police across the country and hardly new: The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed its legality nearly a half century ago.
That case, BTW is Terry v. Ohio, an opinion by CJ Earl Warren.