Stop and Frisk

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

This video includes a surreptitious recording of a stop and frisk in New York. It also includes interviews with NYPD cops who say that what you’re hearing isn’t atypical.

The phrase “police state” is overused. But if you can’t merely walk on the sidewalk in your own neighborhood without enduring this kind of harassment on a regular basis, I don’t know of any term that’s more appropriate.

More information on the video here.

 

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57 Responses to “Stop and Frisk”

  1. #1 |  The Late Andy Rooney | 

    Incognito Cop (1:19-1:25): And what civilians [sic] don’t understand is that the police deaprtment is, like, forcing us to do these unreasonable stops, or, you’re gonna get penalized.

    Is that some kind of excuse?

  2. #2 |  Onlooker | 

    Scary, sickening, outrageous. Way to go Bloomberg. That place is liable to blow some day.

  3. #3 |  jmcross | 

    So the union is powerless to protect it’s members against this? They can rally a goon squad to show up in court when one of their own is taken down for planting evidence but can’t do anything to stop widespread abuse of precious police policies? Interesting.

  4. #4 |  Dave Reed | 

    Why aren’t be citizens of New York deeply embarrassed? Why don’t people from New York claim to be from Canada? Why aren’t business leaving in droves?

    Oh, yeah.

    It isn’t happening to white people.

    yet.

  5. #5 |  nigmalg | 

    How is it legal? I don’t see the requirements of a Terry stop there.

  6. #6 |  el coronado | 

    “Legal”?? Since when do cops or any civil/military power give a flying shit about ‘legal’? “[USSC Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him [try to] enforce it.” – Andrew Jackson, President of the USA

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The phrase “police state” is overused.

    Don’t be silly. 95% of the population could probably count on one hand the number of times they have used that term (regarding thethe U.S.) in their entire lives.

  8. #8 |  George | 

    I live in Maricopa County, AZ, and home of Joe Arpaio. I will vote against Arpaio and I am encouraging others to vote against him as well.

    Having said that, I find it ironic that much of the media spends so much energy denouncing Arpaio yet do so little to bring NYPD and its King Kelly to the attention of the public. Except, of course, for those glamorizing TV shows.

    Dave Reed makes a great point. If cops wanted to protest, they might do so by stopping better connected people who would raise a stink that gets smelled downtown. Of course, the losers would be the cops who protested.

  9. #9 |  Documentary on NYC's Stop and Frisks - Ever Becoming, Never Completed | 

    [...] Via Radley Balko, this whole thing is pretty disgusting. [...]

  10. #10 |  Delta | 

    Theory on the media issue: For example, I noticed that New Yorker magazine likes to run stories of judicial outrages in middle-America, but never in NYC. My guess is there’s a fear/back-scratching issue over raising a stink in your own hometown, and NYC is where most of the media HQ are.

  11. #11 |  Zargon | 

    #1

    Incognito Cop (1:19-1:25): And what civilians [sic] don’t understand is that the police deaprtment is, like, forcing us to do these unreasonable stops, or, you’re gonna get penalized.

    Is that some kind of excuse?

    An explanation need not be an excuse. The Stanford prison experiment and others have shown us that it’s frighteningly easy to convince our stupid little monkey brains to make morally abhorrent decisions by simply presenting it with a nice little dominance hierarchy and then asking, for almost everybody.

    But that’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation. It’s a hint that the correct solution has nothing to do with just finding enough non-evil people to be cops. If you make the system stop resembling the Stanford prison experiment, they’ll stop behaving like they’re in the Stanford prison experiment. Mostly.

    It’s not saying that those who pull the lever to shock the subject at the stern command of the guy in the lab coat is without sin.

  12. #12 |  Jamie | 

    It does happen to white people in NYC. Not as much, but it does. Twice, to me.

    I was hassled walking out of my place in Bushwick one night, roughly four years ago (it was sometime in October, I should have taken better notes). I was locking my door behind me when the spun me around, against the wall next to the door and demanded to know “where is it.” My reaction apparently wasn’t very satisfying (“what the fuck are you talking about?” I know, I was just taken by surprise.) Ended up sitting outside of my own door in handcuffs for an hour and a summons for public urination, of all things. Wouldn’t let me lock my door. I did fight it, and they couldn’t identify the officer who signed the summons, so it was dismissed. But the fucking judge tried to shame me – “you shouldn’t piss in public.”. I didn’t, don’t, and have no idea how they came up with that. Threatened to take it to trial.

    Second time was waiting in the at the Jay St. subway stop. Less traumatic, no summons, but I still got felt up.

    Live in SF now, also in a bad neighborhood. Surprisingly, the cops seem less insane, and if something comes up, I’d actually consider talking to them.

  13. #13 |  Hal 10000 | 

    One thing I like about this video is that it emphasizes just how badly this is changing the police culture and the insidious affect it is having on a generation of cops.

    The thing is, a lot of people will dismiss it. I recently had a conversation about this with a relative, who said that this was just liberal whining. His defense was that crime was down and Bloomberg was re-elected. Seriously.

  14. #14 |  Cyto | 

    Recording devices are cheap. Crazy cheap. $25 will cover an MP3 player/recorder that’ll last close to 8 hours. Heck, $50 will cover a cheap digital video recorder that can do a couple of hours continuous.

    Police carry thousands of dollars of equipment at all times. This is why they should be required to have continuous recording of all activities (not just dash-cams, personal audio/video recording). The courts should refuse to accept testimony from the police if there is not a supporting audio/video recording.

  15. #15 |  Cyto | 

    “An independent inspector general would be in a position to review NYPD policies and practices—like the recorded stop-and-frisk shown here—to see whether the police are violating New Yorkers’ rights and whether the program is in fact yielding benefits,” says the Brennan Center’s Faiza Patel

    Nice sentiment. And there should be independent oversight. But lets be real here. Even if they had vast powers at the beginning, any “inspector general” would very quickly be co-opted by the system and would become the “whitewasher in chief”.

  16. #16 |  el coronado | 

    But hey, the good news is the NYPD will have that ‘who’s at fault’ report on the Serpico thing out any day now.

  17. #17 |  JSL | 

    #6, thats a classic but my favorite would be Honest Abe ignoring Chief Justice Taney’s ruling over habeas corpus (ex parte merryman).

  18. #18 |  jpe | 

    @ nigmalg: the cops say the basis for the stop was that the kid was wearing a hoodie pulled over his face and repeatedly turned and nervously looked at the cops. I’d think there would be caselaw out there to tell us of that is adequate to support the reasonable suspicion needed for a stop.

  19. #19 |  Burgers Allday | 

    How is it legal? I don’t see the requirements of a Terry stop there.

    This.

    Also: the NYC police are now getting their hindparts handed to them in various protestor mass arrest cases in civil suits in court. The most recent class action had qualified immunity denied. It related to the 2004 RNC.

    I’ll try to remember to come back and link it if anyone is interested. I did not cover it in my blog (because it is more 1st amendment than 4a), but it is a nice case to read. It was nice that they considered the NYC police bigwig’s (forgot his name, not Kelly) testimony as lay testimony, rather than expert testimony.

    The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they do catch up eventually.

  20. #20 |  croaker | 

    I figure the ACLU is going to get this kid lots of college money.

  21. #21 |  JdL | 

    #10

    It’s not saying that those who pull the lever to shock the subject at the stern command of the guy in the lab coat is without sin.

    At least here, you’re referring to the Milgram experiment, not the Stanford Prison experiment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

  22. #22 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Except, of course, for those glamorizing TV shows.

    Every year the networks roll out more cop shows. No wonder the infatuation by the masses. Maddening.

    Those heroic cops on TV are as much a lie as Ed O’Neill being married to Sofia Vergara.

    the NYC police are now getting their hindparts handed to them in various protestor mass arrest cases in civil suits in court.

    Burgers, you know as well as anyone that it isn’t the cops who pay. It is the taxpayer. The cops don’t give a fuck about these cases. Not one fuck.

    NYC: too crowded and smells of urine.

  23. #23 |  Personanongrata | 

    At 7:18 in the video:

    “Its done according to the law” ~ Raymond Kelly Comissioner New York City Police Department

    What law is Ray Kelly talking about?

  24. #24 |  SJE | 

    So, whats the latest on Anthony Schoolcraft, NYPD who got thrown under the bus for exposing this sort of BS?

  25. #25 |  SJE | 

    Sorry, ADRIAN Schoolcraft.

    jmcross asks the right question. How come the Union is all over covering for some police thuggery and illegal quotas, but can’t seem to speak up for patrolmen when they are forced to violate the law by their own commanders?

  26. #26 |  Marty | 

    I’m reading Glen Heggstad’s ‘One More Day Everywhere’ book about his solo trip around the world on a motorcycle. He repeatedly points out instances of police and govt intrusions and how the wars and strife and police states are created by governments. People in countries all over Asia kept asking him what the hell is wrong with our government and Israel’s government- just like people all over the world used to ask about East Germany and Russia…
    I’d hate to have a business that depends on tourism- because of shit like this, people travel elsewhere.

  27. #27 |  Jack Dempsey | 

    Wow! I feel so much safer!

  28. #28 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “People in countries all over Asia kept asking him what the hell is wrong with our government and Israel’s government- just like people all over the world used to ask about East Germany and Russia…”


    Great to hear the US is in the same league as the oppressive regimes we used to rail against, and even endured an almost nuclear Cold War against.
    Where did it all go wrong?

  29. #29 |  Cynical in New York | 

    RE: #4

    Even if it does start happening to white conservatives, they’ll just scream political correctness. They won’t even bother looking or acknowledge the legal facts on why it’s wrong

    RE: #13

    Yep thats your standard badge licking law and order conservative for you. Did you by any chance remind your relative that Bloomberg is also one of the biggest gun grabbing mayors in the country?

  30. #30 |  MikeV | 

    Bloomberg’s agenda seems to be to create an environment where only the right kind of people will want to continue to live in NYC, or they will at least know how behave so they don’t annoy the right kind of people.

    The next step will probably be to send offenders to re-education facilities to learn not to eat or cook fatty food, drink big sugary drinks, walk around the streets wearing hoodies or other gangster apparel, look at the police, or be insufficiently respectful when the police harass them.

  31. #31 |  nigmalg | 

    The courts should refuse to accept testimony from the police if there is not a supporting audio/video recording.

    I agree 100%.

  32. #32 |  nigmalg | 

    @ nigmalg: the cops say the basis for the stop was that the kid was wearing a hoodie pulled over his face and repeatedly turned and nervously looked at the cops. I’d think there would be caselaw out there to tell us of that is adequate to support the reasonable suspicion needed for a stop.

    I know you’re speaking from a sense of irritation with the case law, but I’ll reply literally just for the sake of showing that even under our tortured forth amendment exceptions, this doesn’t fly.

    He alleviated the cause for suspicion by explaining that he was just stopped, per Terry. Secondly, they went through his pockets and bag instead of simply checking for weapons on the outside of the clothing, per Terry’s lineage. Thirdly, they assaulted him and tried quite merrily to instigate a confrontation with him to hopefully justify further abrupt violence. That last item is impossible to prove, so it will pass uncorrected, but the others are quite clear.

    It sounded like a mugging. I don’t doubt for a second that if he had a few bucks in his bag, it would have gone missing.

  33. #33 |  Charlie O | 

    I disagree. The term “police state” isn’t used nearly enough in this country. We have evolved into a police state. Look at the TSA, look the militarization of police departments. Look at the unaccountability all too often for police misconduct and use of force. Look at the so-called war on drugs.

  34. #34 |  Zargon | 

    #21

    At least here, you’re referring to the Milgram experiment, not the Stanford Prison experiment.

    Yeah. Sometimes I get them mixed up, because I categorize all of them together, even if the specifics of each differ. They all show the same unfortunate side effects of humans probably evolving their intelligence from recursive contests in monkey dominance hierarchies, which also happen to select for extra baggage, like obedience to authority, among other things.

  35. #35 |  Chris Mallory | 

    If we are going to throw out the number about 85% of the people being stopped being minorities, can we also bring up the fact that 95% of the time, when the race is known, the perpetrator in violent crimes in NYC is also a minority?

  36. #36 |  SJE | 

    #35: you can bring it up, but its not necessarily correct. For example, if law enforcement is focused on group A, they will disproportionally arrest group A. This is used to justify the increased focus on group A, ignoring that a lot of crimes are committed by other than group A. Add to that, LEO will lie and cheat to get convictions. Then, when people are victims of crime, they have faulty perception and report that a member of group A was the perpetrator.

    e.g. when you are stopped and frisked multiple times in the same block for being “suspicious” and you lose your temper and cuss out the cops, you get arrested, justifying their original suspicion.

  37. #37 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    The good news is that an audio recording is frequently enough, and much less conspicuous to make than a video recording. The bad news is that recording people without their consent isn’t legal in all states– for example, it isn’t legal in Virginia.

    Other good news of a sort– the I’ve been seeing the article in The Nation linked here and there on Facebook and LiveJournal from people don’t usually follow justice system outrages.

    It’s also something to hear the police who don’t want to do stop and frisk– even if it would be better if they’d resign over this or go public with their opposition, at least they’re probably not the sort who’d do worse than they’re ordered to.

  38. #38 |  DocMerlin | 

    Here is a clue about how it all went wrong: Police are the standing army that the founders warned us about.
    Back in the day, anyone could bring things before the grand jury, not just the AG. Nowadays the executive branches have given themselves monopoly over justice, and by doing so are able to exempt their own people from consequences.

  39. #39 |  SJE | 

    #37: VA’s law is very likely unconstitutional if applied to law enforcement in public

  40. #40 |  perlhaqr | 

    I need a “YOU ARE BEING RECORDED” t-shirt. :D

    “What, your police can’t read?”

  41. #41 |  nigmalg | 

    “What, your police can’t read?”

    I believe that requirement was negotiated away by FOP.

  42. #42 |  Cyto | 

    I have some sympathy for the beat officers who have to deal with this stuff. For most people it is really difficult to just pick up and walk away from your career. And these guys are like frogs in slowly warming water. The water is pretty hot now, but it has taken years to get there.

    I’ve worked in situations where by any sane standard I should have picked up and left. I didn’t have any moral issues to deal with, just crappy work conditions. So I stuck it out longer than I should have hoping things would get better.

    Remember, most of these guys are average-at-best. And they make really good money. Plus they have power and prestige. And a fraternity that watches their back. And if they wanted to work for another police force they’d have to relocate their families. That really is asking them to give up a lot over something that they don’t really want to do, but also isn’t really a direct and massive harm to themselves.

    Still, I suspect most of the anti-compstat and anti-stop-n-frisk sentiment is more based in a “don’t tell me how to do my job, get off my back I’m a good cop and I know what to do” attitude rather than any specific concern for civil liberties.

  43. #43 |  SJE | 

    #41: agreed. Yes, the beat cops are part of the problem, but the source of the problem is much higher up. What are their options?
    Confronting corruption?: look at what happened to Serpico, Adrian Schoolcraft etc.
    Moving? Its not like most PDs, where they can just drive to another PD for another job with different management. NYC is huge, so they can’t just commute to a different PD.

    Beating on the beat cops is counterproductive: I’d rather position ourselves as allies of the regular cops.

  44. #44 |  Sandy | 

    There are a couple of cops where I live that are real bullies. I ticked one off when I didn’t want to sell my old Buick to him for the $250 he offered me ( I had put nearly $7,000 into the car at that point, and it had been my daily driver for years). I didn’t realize he was a cop while I was talking to him, and I laughed at his “generous” offer, but when I watched him storm off to his (unmarked) car, I noticed the radio antenna things on the trunk lid and I thought, “uh oh!” Sure enough, I ended up with the code enforcement officer harassing me, threatening to throw me in jail because the car “was an eyesore and a hazard” sitting in my driveway. Anyway, as bad as those two cops were and are, I’m not nearly as scared of them as I was the cops in NYC. I was a nanny in Connecticut and ALMOST took a wrong turn onto a one-way street while I was running an errand in NYC for the family. Wow, talk about hostile. The cop backed his car up when he saw me with my turn indicator on, and even though I had realized my mistake before he even got to me, he was “f-ing” this and “goddamn” that and was RIGHT in my face. Looks like nothing has changed there, except maybe for the worst.

  45. #45 |  Z | 

    Here’s a quick primer on post Dinkins NYC (roughly 1990 onwards). Guiliani pushed the idea that a police state was necessary in order for people to feel safe. Hypocritical white liberals (many of them Jews from the upper west side), teamed up with Irish/Italian/Polish outerboro residents to vote for him. WASPY bank managers financed it all. This led to the Disneyfication of Times Square and the further economic segregation of nyc, which was okey-doke as long as you were on the right side of the income divide. So the aforementioned groups made a deal: We’ll let you usurp civil liberties as long as it isn’t ours. The deal continues under Bloomberg, a man who became Mayor simply out of boredom and had the city charter changed to get an extra term because he liked the challenge. The next mayor, likely at this point to be Christine Quinn, will try to continue the same deal but may not be able to because America, including NYC and NYS refuses to tax the holy job creators and allows them to hide 25-30 trillion dollars in off-shore shelters. Without the money to keep the above groups well fed and socially/physically/economically insulated from police and government abuse, this deal will unravel with astonishing speed.

  46. #46 |  el coronado | 

    Gotta (vehemently) disagree with youse guys, #41 & #42. If your thesis is, as stated, “Still, [we] suspect most of the anti-compstat & anti-stop-n-frisk sentiment is based more on a ["stop bossing me around so much, boss!"] attitude than any specific concern for civil liberties.” And guess what? You’re probably exactly right about that.

    But.

    But that being the case, since you’ve made a good case that the complaining cops don’t really seem to give a rats ass about the civil liberties of the NYC citizens they’re protecting and serving (LOL), then why the hell would you say, “I have some sympathy for the beat cops who have to deal with this stuff.” This is the internet, so I will of course immediately prove Godwin’s Law and ad-absurdum it all the way up to the Nazis. Would you “have some sympathy” for an SS Sondercommando or Totenkopf asshole? Or the guy who ran the showers at at a death camp, because ‘hey, he was only doing his job. He probably didn’t even *like* killing all those women and children!’

    No? Then why do the cops who crap all over people get excused from that behavior? ‘Cause “it pays good”?

  47. #47 |  SJE | 

    I’m not excusing the cops, and think that they should be prosecuted for breaking the law. But if you want to solve the problem, you have to also prosecute the higher ups. So your Nazi analogy is actually accurate: they executed the higher ups, while a lot of prison guards only did jail time.

  48. #48 |  Bob Mc | 

    This is what the “new professionalism” sounds like.

  49. #49 |  croaker | 

    @39 Read? You are aware that you can no be hired by a police department for scoring too high on the intelligence test, and according to the 2nd Circuit that’s legal.

    Baron Bloomberg recently boasted that he controlled the “7th largest army in the world.” And it has been made clear that it is an army of occupation. Time to create The Maquis.

  50. #50 |  Bergman | 

    I wonder, how would Mayor Bloomberg react, if he was suddenly stopped by a cop and frisked?

    Would that cop still be employed at the end of the day?

  51. #51 |  Dylboz | 

    The term “police state” cannot be over-used, any more than the word “reality” can be overused. The former describes the latter. In other words, you’re soaking in it.

  52. #52 |  DPirate | 

    I think police, generally, in cases where interaction escalates to violence, are victims of their own moral cowardice. They know very well, intellectually, that the behavior is wrong, yet do it anyway as a result of stress created by the disconnect between what is right and what they feel they must do in their job.

  53. #53 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    The police who objected to stop-and-frisk seemed to be emotionally revolted by it. It wasn’t a theory of rights or extreme devotion to the constitution, it was that they weren’t temperamentally bullies and possibly that they wanted to do something useful or at least harmless in their jobs.

  54. #54 |  Z | 

    #49- Mayor Bloomberg wouldn’t be stopped. Nor would any “white” well groomed person 30 or over.

  55. #55 |  oscar | 

    The actor from Breaking Bad was stopped and frisked recently and it made news. Of course he is a minority so no big deal, nothing to see here, move along.
    http://gothamist.com/2012/06/14/gus_fring_stopped_and_frisked.php

  56. #56 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    From the Fring article: The NYCLU has made an app for recording encounters with the police.

    http://gothamist.com/2012/06/06/take_a_look_at_the_nyclus_new_stop.php

    http://www.nyclu.org/app

  57. #57 |  demize! | 

    Ray Kelly is a bull necked thug always has been he works for an effette megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur. This is the Quasi-Fascist Giuliani with a slightly less direct rhetoric, the policy remains unchanged. @Jamie experience isn’t atypical for working class whites who live in mixes or non white neighborhoods. The cops “know” you’re buying drugs and their is nothing you can do or say to dissuade them from this notion.

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