NEW YORK (PIX11) - In the administration of a mayor-elect who ran on an anti-stop-and-frisk message, stop-and-frisk is going to stay, albeit not as widely as it has been in recent years. Also, crime will rise, and it will all be positive. Those are the conclusions of an analysis by an expert on crime statistics and how they’re used to justify stop-and-frisk.
A close listening to the audio track of one of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s campaign ads shows why some voters thought the public advocate had promised to completely end the practice of police stopping, questioning and manually searching people who officers suspect of committing crimes. But the campaign ad tells a different story.
“Bill De Blasio,” says the narrator, “will end the era of stop and frisk that targets minorities.” The clarity of that message is debatable. What is clear is that the ad does not say the mayor-elect will end stop and frisk altogether.
All three men on the short list to be next police commissioner — NYPD Chief of Department Eric Banks, Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro and former commissioner Bill Bratton — met Wednesday with De Blasio, and all three come from police backgrounds where stop and frisk is simply considered part of law enforcement’s mission.
In fact, the man considered top candidate, former Commissioner Bratton, had compared stop-and-frisk favorably to chemotherapy.
“Applied in the right way,” Bratton said to a meeting of the Lower Manhattan Marketing Association last year, “[chemotherapy and radiation] will cure most cancers. [Stop-and-frisk] is an intrusive power…but applied in the right way, it can have the effect of reducing crime.”
“No one in their right mind would say you should do away with stop-and-frisk,” said Eli Silverman, PhD, professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s an integral part of policing. You just have to do it in the right way.”
Silverman has written two books on the use and misuse of crime statistics by police departments generally, and the NYPD in particular.
Regarding stop-and-frisk, Silverman points out that de Blasio’s possible first choice for commissioner, Bratton, has not only said he would continue a stop-and-frisk program more limited in scope than the current one, but Bratton has also said, in that Lower Manhattan Marketing Association speech, “The media and the public [are] wanting more information, more justification from the Police Department. That’s appropriate.”
In other words, Bratton will try to make the NYPD transparent to citizens. The effect of that, according to the crime statistics expert, will be “crime has gone up. That’s what [de Blasio's critics are] going to say.”
Silverman told PIX11 News that the incoming administration will almost certainly see a rise in crime. However, he said, it will not necessarily mean that there will be a higher number of crimes.
On the contrary, Silverman said, the number of crimes will most likely remain low, but, because police have manipulated crime statistics to make the safest big city in the country seem even safer than it is.
“If [crime] does go up,” said Silverman, “it’s because this administration will be more transparent,” and therefore keep more accurate crime statistics.
Silverman expressed confidence in the transparency of an NYPD under de Blasio if Bill Bratton were at the helm. The statement was based on Silverman’s past experience with Bratton as top cop.
“When I did my first book,” said Silverman, “I had access to any records, any one, anything [within the NYPD]. So I know he has greater transparency.”