Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Institutional racism not just wrong, but also ineffective

I've been very impressed here in NYC by the relative tolerance New Yorkers display towards one another. Most NYPD officers are also careful to avoid making racist and sexist stereotypes the basis of their world-view. Sadly, the hierarchy of the NYPD demands that their officers aggressively invade the privacy rights of folks who live in poor and predominantly minority neighborhoods. Here's the statistics for 2010: over half a million (600,601)New Yorkers were deemed so dangerous, that their 4th amendment expectations of privacy were violated and they were searched on suspicion of carrying a weapon. So, did the expert sleuthing of New York's finest take hundreds of thousands of guns off the street? Well, not exactly. In fact, less than 0.14% of these "stop and frisks" resulted in the discovery of a firearm. Now, I'm not an expert on statistics, but these results don't suggest a very high level of intelligence gathering on the part of the NYPD before they decide to rob a citizen of his or her rights to privacy. An economist friend of mine suggests that a success rate of less than 0.14% is actually worse than you would expect from a completely random search process. How can this be? The searches aren't random at all. In fact 87% of all New Yorkers who suffered the humiliation of being stopped and frisked by the NYPD were black or latino. Now, what the racist policies of the NYPD has actually accomplished is to breed mistrust and resentment in many communities around the city, depriving hard-working cops of the opportunity to get useful information from people that is so essential to their proper function of keeping people safe. Meanwhile, white criminals (especially those who can afford to dress in a middle-class style) can wander the streets carrying arms with impunity. They know that the odds of the cops stopping and frisking a white guy, with a suit and briefcase, are very small, indeed.

This might be merely a bit puzzling and not so tragic if the racist paradigms of the NYPD top brass didn't too often create the sort of horrific outcome that just occurred in the Bronx a couple of weeks ago. A hopped up undercover narcotics officer, having broken into the home of an unarmed teenager, shot this teenager dead in the presence of the young victim's grandmother and six-year-old brother. Does anyone expect this little six year old to grow up with a healthy and trusting attitude towards law enforcement? When a man breaks in your home and shoots your brother dead for no reason at all, it is only natural that you should regard the organiztion who employs that man as lacking any moral legitimacy. This is especially true in this particular instance, where the only crime the police allege this unarmed teenager may have committed is that of buying a small quantity of marijuana, merely a misdemeanor offense under NYC laws.


dbshotz said...

I know you're new to New York, Ulysses, but the saddest part of this whole thing is that this problem has gotten significantly worse in the lasrt decade. We seem to be going in the opposite direction from other American cities!

mlee33 said...

Whar db said!!