Just days after thousands of New Yorkers marched through the Upper East Side, protesting the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk tactics, the police responded with an invitation: They asked the media to witness how they train their officers to make the stops.
Wednesday morning, members of the New York City media were invited to observe a demonstration of stop-and-frisk scenarios at NYPD’s Rodman’s Neck training facility in the Bronx.
Critics of stop and frisk argue the practice is unwarranted, and unfairly targets minorities. Nearly nine out of the ten people stopped last year were black or Latino, according to a study by the New York Civil Liberties Union, and 88 percent of those stopped were totally innocent.
After serving lunch, Dr. James O’Keefe, the department's Deputy Commissioner of Training, along with Detective James Shanahan and Inspector Kerry Sweet discussed the legal standard which empowers the police to forcibly stop and frisk someone, even if they don't have probable cause to arrest them. The officers said they can stop and search someone based on the legal concept of “reasonable suspicion," such as if an individual matches a general description of the perpetrator of a crime.
Following the address, scenarios were staged demonstrating situations where a stop and frisk might be warranted. One scenario involved officers receiving a radio call of a perp's general description. Officers stopped and frisked a "suspect" who matched that description.
But NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman dismissed today's training demonstration as mere "stagecraft.
“No amount of role-play changes the reality for people of color on the streets of New York who live in fear that every trip to the corner store, or walk home will end up against the wall or face down on the ground," she said.