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Bronx with high rate of minority stops in city: report

Bronx Times

As controversy rages over Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s Stop-and-Frisk program, the Bronx was close to the top in numbers last year.

It was beaten only by Brooklyn, with close to twice the population, in stops of blacks and Hispanics.

In all, the Bronx saw 135,724 stops recorded, with only 10% of those yielding actual arrests or summonses, according to a new report by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The controversial program has sparked ire from groups in the Bronx and across the city, with charges of racial profiling, though the overwhelming majority of the Bronx stops were made in minority communities.

The NYCLU released numbers obtained from the NYPD showing 685,724 stops made citywide last year, a 14% jump from 2010.

The figures show 92% of last year’s total Bronx stop-and-frisks involved blacks or Latinos.

Of the total number stopped in the borough, 88,147 wound up being frisked.

Four of the five top precincts across the city for minority stops were in the Bronx - the 44th in Highbridge/Concourse, 40th in Mott Haven, 42nd in Morrisania, and the 46th in Morris Heights/South Fordham.

The 46th Precinct, ranked number one in minority stops in the borough. About 98% of their 13,718 total stops involved blacks or Latinos.

But the 40th Precinct ranked highest for total arrests in the borough, with 17,690 people winding up under arrest.

And while the 40th Precinct took the top prize, the 44th ranked number one in the city where force was used in each stop.

That includes hands on a suspect, pointing a gun at them or putting them against a wall or car. The policy, blasted by civil rights groups and elected officials, has inspired groups to hold forums on how to conduct oneself if approached by police.

Councilman Oliver Koppell sponsored a stop-and-frisk forum June 13 where former NYPD detective Chuck Berkley explained the “do’s and don’ts” when encountering police.

“We want them to know how to act and when to complain,” said Koppell, who called the measure an abuse of power.

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, whose district is covers the 43rd Precinct, held a special meeting in May where residents blasted the Four-Three for overstepping their authority during random searches. Crespo also distributed flyers on what to do if stopped.

Bronx clergy members held a Clergy Leadership Summit June 8 on how to combat the policy. The event led up to the June 17 Father’s Day March Against Stop-And-Frisk in Manhattan, with several Bronx groups among the thousands that marched.

The NYCLU has also gone high-tech, setting up a smartphone app that lets witnesses record police street stops and forward video clips directly to the NYCLU.

Mayor Bloomberg recently said the NYPD plans to “mend, not end” the program.

Bloomberg said the numbers will likely fall with Governor Andrew Cuomo moving to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot, a common reason for an arrest.

Although numbers show no significant drop in shootings in recent years, Bloomberg insisted stop-and-frisks have helped remove hundreds of guns off the streets.

The U.S. Justice Department is now hearing anecdotal arguments on whether it should probe the legality of the practice.

Last month, class action status was granted to a group filing a lawsuit against the NYPD, claiming the policy is nothing more than racial profiling. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled there was enough proof the practice has led to thousands of illegal stops.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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