Smarter Cops and Less "Stop and Frisk," Another Way Dallas Beats NYC

Categories: Schutze

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A federal district court finding in New York has spurred a national conversation about police "stop-and-frisk" practices ruled unconstitutional by the judge. Even though the judge referred to it in her finding, one key factor gets left out of a lot of the media chatter: It's never a good idea for the cops to look stupid.

How else do we think police officers look to the vast majority of black and Latino citizens who have done nothing wrong and do not intend to do anything wrong but are nevertheless stopped and frisked by police?

Between 2004 and 2012 New York cops stopped and frisked 4.4. million citizens, of whom 88 percent were sent on their way because they weren't doing anything wrong. Of those stopped, 83 percent were black or Hispanic even though blacks and Hispanics make up only half the population of the city.

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Dallas Observer
Our police chief in Dallas can tell a barrister from a burglar, unlike those cops in New York.
In other words, during that period New York cops got it wrong in millions of stops. Judge Shira Scheindlin found in her ruling that the cops got it wrong because they were conflating skin color with criminality. And I know this is the point where the trolls will jump in to provide a wheelbarrow full of mainly bogus statistics to show me that black and brown people commit more crimes than white people -- basically New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's argument.

But even if we were to stipulate to those numbers -- and I'm not -- they wouldn't change the fact that being black or brown is not what makes somebody a criminal and therefore is not what makes someone suspicious. Lots of other factors that cops should be good at spotting contribute to suspicious behavior worthy of an intervention.

Most of the ruling principles here, derived from a 1967 Ohio court case often called "Terry" in police parlance, have to do with truly suspicious behavior. That includes typical casing behavior like walking up and down in front of a place to do reconnaissance or having a suspicious clothing bulge that looks like a gun to the trained eye of a cop.

Most of the focus has been on what Judge Scheindlin said about racial discrimination, but she also based her finding in part on lousy police work -- the fact that only 1.5 percent of the millions of stops in New York produced weapons. Even though black people and Hispanics were stopped more often, those stops produced fewer guns than stops of whites.

Why? Because the cops in New York were doing a lousy job of street-reading minority citizens. Mirroring a general tendency among white people to read minority faces less well than white faces, the cops in New York were getting it wrong because they couldn't tell a black high school teacher from a black burglar, a problem not unrelated to the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

A week ago Dallas Police Chief David Brown had a wonderful semi-autobiographical essay on the op-ed page of The Dallas Morning News that started off with his memory of an experience when he was first a new young cop in Dallas. Brown came across a bad guy who had been a track star in his high school in Dallas. When Brown rolled up on the scene, the bad guy called him by name and shouted, "Let's see if you still got it." A foot race ensued. In his essay, Brown neglected to say who won.

That's where good police work and respect for the police come from. It's cops who know their own turf and know how to read the people on that turf. We all want the police to stop and frisk people who are about to do something bad. None of us should want them to stop people who have no intention of doing anything bad.

Of course the stopping and frisking of innocent people is oppressive, humiliating, deeply angering and all of that. But then there's this other factor: The person wrongly stopped gets back in his car or onto the bus or on down the street and thinks, "That stupid cop can't tell a bad guy from a good guy." That's not the attitude you want people to have toward the police.

We've had two chiefs in a row in Dallas, Brown and his predecessor, David Kunkle, both of whom have put great emphasis on getting it right, both of whom know how to get it right. We're lucky. That makes us smarter than New York, which ain't half bad, is it?


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95 comments
diehipsterscum
diehipsterscum

I think it's amazing that we have so many laws on the books in our prison-industrial complex society that if you randomly stop 100 dudes, 12 will be going to jail or getting a citation.

leftocenter
leftocenter

@JimSX You still mad about Back in Black?

pak152
pak152

the program was "stop, question and frisk" not "stop and frisk". now such a program is not likely to work here in Dallas because we don't have the density of population that there is NYC. there you have cops walking a beat here they ride in cars

roo_ster
roo_ster

The fourth amendment applies even to groups whose documented rate of criminality is disproportionate.

======

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!


bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

Ah, the good Jim Schutze writing today. Welcome back!

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I find it curious how liberals will talk about how racist and prejudiced states such as Texas are because of the slightest slights committed by the police against minorities, or some incident from 35+ years ago is dredged up in search of "closure" (even though police practices have indeed changed in these parts considerably).


And then we read of a practice in New York City that finally went to court that exposed an egregious, racist, prejudiced practice (that would do Bull Connor proud) by the police department of the finest, most accommodating city in the world when it comes to race relations, namely New York City.


But instead of a call to arms by every civil rights leader and prominent liberals, instead we hear a murmured "Tsk Tsk, they just don't know how to read minority body language."

Dallas_dude
Dallas_dude

I'm going to compare black people to dogs so if you can only see that as being racist and not an anology then that's on you...

There are lots of bans on pit bulls all over the country because they are seen as aggressive breeds.  This isn't a subjective observation.  We have statistical information that shows pit bulls assault humans at a vastly disproportionate rate to other breeds. 

Black people commit crimes at a vastly diproportionate rate to other groups. and IT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE.

So why don't we take an objective scientific approach?

YOU CAN'T USE STATISTICS WHEN THEY SUPPORT YOUR ARGUMENT AND THEN TOSS THEM OUT WHEN YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE OR HIDE BEHIND BEING POLITICAL CORRECT.

BTW, I'm a minority.  I grew up dirt poor, and subject to many of the same things that all these kids are subject to.  How about we start holding the individual accountable and stop with the Hippy BS about revolving prisons, institutional crime, racism, poorly funded schools, bla bla bla....Lets take individual responsibility.

dsjohnson64
dsjohnson64

Well Jim you certainly managed to omit the most important part in your "smarter" story.  Ever wonder why most people--white, black and latino--feel more comfortable walking along the streets of Manhattan and riding the NYC subways than they feel walking along the streets of central Dallas and riding DART (or walking in many Dallas suburban areas for that matter).  Perhaps it is because the crime rates in New York City have plummeted over the last couple of decades so that the city is now one of the safest urban areas in the whole country.  Or to be more blunt for the cognitively challenged,  the rates for all crime categories--including all violent crime categories--are substantially lower in New York City than in Dallas.  Meanwhile, it is fascinating how you and many others so quickly dismiss any statistics you don't like as being bogus (e.g., 83% of all "stop and frisk" being minority versus 97% of all crime being minority in NYC).  It is the omission of "politically incorrect" statistics that helps explain why so many people are turning away from mainstream media (e.g., MSNBC, CNN, DMN, etc.) to alternative sources of information to reflect the reality they know from life experience.  So Jim why don't you go back to the Museum Tower controversy where you still sound half sane.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

The situation in NYC is lot tougher than Dallas.  We talk about "gang affiliated"  when a couple of losers rip off somebody for a bag of weed.  They have real gangs, Mafia, Russian mob, Jamaican posses, Chinese tongs, Colombian cartels and all the wannabes that extort entire neighborhoods.  People that kill and hurt other people the way the rest of us go to a 9-5 job.  Our biggest crime is a former Mav hanger on goes off the deep end, family violence.  While I appreciate the job Chief Brown and officers have done, they deal with a different environment.

Obummer
Obummer

Yo whoz iz gonna pickz upz allz da unlicensed uh pharmacist inz Dallas?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

There's some uncomfortable truths involved in black crime and S&F, and this is coming from someone who is opposed to S&F: Overall, black people commit a disproportionate number of crimes, even after controlling for economic factors.  Calling it "bogus" isn't an argument unless you studied statistics from Professors Bill S Preston, Esq and Ted "Theodore" Logan.

The other uncomfortable truth is that there is one place in the country where black people don't commit a disproportionate number of crimes, and that is NYC, and only after the implementation of S&F.

Liberty is about difficult choices.  The difficult choice in this one is that liberty is worth more than a tactic like S&F, even when it does work, which it does.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Stop and Frisk ? 

Where is Dallas going to find the extra manpower to do that ?

There are barely enough officers out of the Southwest Substation to answer 911 calls in a timely manner.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bmarvel Ah yes, more insight into Mr. Marvel.  'Good' writing to be defined as...... perhaps writing in which the subject matter and author's opinion dovetail beautifully with Marvel's own views on the subject?

diehipsterscum
diehipsterscum

@Dallas_dude 5% of the worlds population and 25% of it's prison population and we are NOT holding people accountable? 

NightSand
NightSand

@Dallas_dude Do Black people commit crimes at a higher rate or are they convicted of crimes at a higher rate?  Are all crimes equal?   

doofUSA
doofUSA

@Dallas_dude so you want individual accountability, but also want the individual to be accountable for their entire race? 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@dsjohnson64 

Here, I'll shorten that for ya' :

If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about.


 . . . then I'll pull out my papers and smile to the sky, 'cause I know that the hypnotized never lie . . .

Do ya'?

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Not true, crime has been rising steadily in NYC since Lenny Briscoe died and Jack McCoy became the DA.

CraigT42
CraigT42

There are a lot of things that might lower crime that police are not allowed to do. Preventative detention, coerced confessions, Warrantless searches, etc.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@everlastingphelps 

All of the "uncomfortable truths" to which you allude -- mainly your belief that black people are predisposed toward criminality -- were controlled for in the New York case. Take a white lawyer who has never broken the law, dressed in a  suit, carrying a briefcase and black lawyer who has never broken the law, suit, briefcase, the same: the black guy gets stopped and frisked. It's just our old friend, racism, nothing more, nothing less.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@oakclifftownie They dont come out for a known crime under $50, they aint got time to stop and frisk either.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@RTGolden1 Pay attention to modifiers, Golden. I didn't say good writing. I said the good Jim was writing. There's a big difference.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@NightSand @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

Yes and the fact that it is 2013 and it is going on in NYC and here in Dallas we are dredging up police misdeeds from over 40 years ago in order to maintain the perception of minority misdeeds.

If this were occurring in any of the states and cities that are constantly associated with racism and prejudice, the DOJ would be here and it would be front page news with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson leading the charge for the scalps of the local political leaders for perpetuating such injustice.


I noticed that there are no quotes in the article calling for the resignation of the NYC Police Chief or Mayor Bloomberg.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@NightSand @Dallas_dude Black people both commit crimes and are convicted of crimes at a higher rate.  We can corroborate the committed numbers by comparing the conviction rates to the victim surveys, which show that the races are convicted at the same rates that they are shown to be creating victims.  Black people get sentenced differently, in that they are subject to some pretty racist minimum sentences on drug laws (crack being punished much more than powder cocaine) but have prior criminal records held against them slightly less than white career criminals.

As for all crimes being equal, yes and no.  Black people commit more crimes of all types, including white collar crime, but are much much more likely to commit interracial murder, assault and rape.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@doofUSA @Dallas_dude Looks more like he wants individual accountability, but wants the entire race to be judged on individual actions.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@mavdog@dsjohnson64For the record, these are the numbers Mavdog THOUGHT he was quoting:

murders/100K pop: Dallas 11.3, NYC 6.3

rapes/100K pop: Dallas 38.6, NYC 13.3

robberies/100K pop: Dallas 343.4. NYC 240.8

assaults/100K pop: Dallas 307.7, NYC 363.2

burglaries/100K pop: Dallas 1499.4, NYC 221.1

dsjohnson64
dsjohnson64

@mavdog @dsjohnson64 You were a little too quick on the draw for accuracy. Go back and read the statistics more carefully on the links you posted.  You are confusing raw number totals with the rates per 100,000.  For example in 2011, there were 515 murders in NYC for a rate of 6.3 per 100,000 versus 131 murders in Dallas for a rate of 10.9 per 100,000.  In other words the murder rate in Dallas was 58% higher than in NYC (meaning substantially higher).  The rate for rape in NYC per 100,000 in 2011 was 13.3 versus in Dallas the rate per 100,000 in 2011 was 35.  So the rape rate in Dallas was almost three times higher (meaning very substantially higher).  And so forth and so on!  I now wonder how quickly you are going to dismiss your own statistics.  LOL!!!

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@mavdog @dsjohnson64  

With regards to the murders (and other person on person crimes), don't forget that NYC has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation in terms of possession, much less carry.

dsjohnson64
dsjohnson64

@CraigT42 Trying to balance concern for civil liberties with concern for public order and personal safety is always problematic (and consequently is always a source of disagreement).  Personally, I would draw the balance line somewhere between the NYC "stop and frisk" policy and the warrantless searches of private residences.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@JimSX @everlastingphelps I believe in it the same way that I believe in, say, gravity.  It's one of those things that continues to effect you even if you don't "believe" in it.

The real question here is why S&F works, because it has returned black people to the national level of criminality, and figure out how to separate it from the racism and rights violations (which is where I have a problem.)

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin NYC cops don't have time for it either, honestly.  The reason there are so many fruitless stops is because the cops are on a quota system for stops, so they end up harassing a bunch of teenagers who haven't done anything.  They have to stop SOMEONE, and a teenager is least likely to have blowback on them for the harassment.

Quite a few NYPD cops have come forward and said that even though they support S&F, the quotas making it useless and wastes their time when they could be connecting with the community in a useful way and actually patrolling for real crime.

cmint
cmint

I would draw the line closer to keep your hands off me and stay out of my house and car unless you can prove reasonable cause to a judge for a warrant or you believe a life is in imminent danger.

cmint
cmint

@everlastingphelps @cmint  You are correct sir! But,  I have always used it as a sort of euphemism for security vs freedom.  Yeah, you get rid of one problem but what problem replaced it. 99% of the time I am falling on the less security more freedom side. We may be closer on this than I thought.

cmint
cmint

Mussolinni made the trains run on time.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@mavdog @everlastingphelps @JimSX Minorities, no, black people, yes.  Controlling for population percentage, criminal history, economic situation, education, etc, black people commit a wildly disproportionate number of crimes.  After S&F began in NYC, they didn't (in NYC.)

(and that's not just racist prosecution, it's corroborated by victim report statistics.)

The best I've been able to come up with is that it forces the cops out of their cars.  The more cops got into squad cars/cruisers/prowlers (whatever the wanted to call them) the higher crime got, everywhere.  I think making them stop the cars and get out (for something other than to write a ticket to another car) regularly probably has more to do with it than anything.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @JimSX 

I'd suggest that S&F "works" because it correlates to a higher police presence, as well as pre-emptive actions against the public.

We can lower the crime rate substantially, and quickly, if we abandon our freedoms and liberties, allow for the police to be omnipresent and authorized to stop every citizen for no reason, and to watch every trip anyone takes outside their residence.

There's a question on the minorities % of pop vs their incidence of crimes: are the minorites actually committing as disportionate a number of crimes the stats show, or are minorities arrested a disportionate amount for the no. of crimes committed?

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