Stop-and-frisk makes youth distrust police, crime goes unreported: report

An NYPD police officer standing in front of a group of cops.
A new study by the Vera Institute for Justice suggests that growing up with stop-and-frisk makes young New Yorkers less likely to go to the police for help when they’re in trouble.
Credit: Getty Images

A new report from the Vera Institute for Justice found that young New Yorkers who have experienced stop-and-frisk often categorically distrust police.

The report posits that this distrust poses a serious threat to public safety, as New York youth are apparently less likely to report crime, even when they are the victims.

According to the Vera Institute, at least half of all stops involve youth between the ages of 13 and 25. Their study surveyed nearly 500 youth in neighborhoods with heavy police presence, such as East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and the South Bronx.

Out of the survey participants, 8 out of 10 reported being stopped more than once in their lifetime. 44 percent reported being stopped at least nine times, and some reported upwards of 20 stops.

26 percent of the youth said that officers displayed a weapon during their stop. 70 percent had been frisked, and nearly half reported being threatened or even experience physical force at the hands of police officers.

The Vera Institute results suggested that a lack of communication may be at the root of the perception that stops are unwarranted: less than a third of all survey respondents reported having ever been told why they were stopped. 51 percent believed they were targeted or treated worse because of their race or ethnicity, and 61 percent believed the way police interacted with them was because of their age.

Almost 90 percent said people in their neighborhood don’t trust the police and — perhaps most troubling — that they themselves would not feel comfortable seeking help from a police officer if they were in trouble. Less than half said they would report a violent crime in which they were the victim — and survey results suggested that stops increased that sentiment: someone who reported being stopped seven times in the last year was apparently 48 percent less likely than someone who had been stopped only once to contact police if they were a victim of a violent crime.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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