Saturday, July 17, 2010

Paterson Puts An End To Stop And Frisk

David Paterson, for all his faults, has done good things in his time as Governor of New York. Yesterday included one of those, when he signed legislation ending the stop and frisk police procedure that police use in our state. The controversial tactic of stopping and searching frisking people without little cause (or a warrant) has been overwhelmingly used against minorities in our city. Police claim that it's helped them solve cases, but Paterson saw through their anecdotal evidence.

From The NY Times:

Mr. Paterson said in an interview, the examples Mr. Kelly provided only further convinced him that signing this bill would not lead to a rise in murders and other violent crimes, as some, including Kelly had warned. “I saw this as a two-pronged test,” he said. “One, was it violative of privacy rights, which I thought it was. Two, was the effectiveness of stopping very serious crime, or perhaps acts of terrorism, dependent on this information? And my conclusion was overwhelmingly that it was not.”

The documents submitted by Mr. Kelly represented the first time the police had put specific cases behind its argument for being allowed to keep information on all of those stopped.

A look at these 170 cases shows instances where the stop-and-frisk data clearly did assist investigators in tracking down perpetrators. In many cases, the data provided shortcuts that speeded investigations along, such as providing hangouts of a known suspect or the names and addresses of potential witnesses known to frequent a location where a crime occurred.

But in many of the cases, it was hard to determine how helpful the data was in solving crimes, because the information provided to the governor was, in his words, “at best inconclusive.”

The only conclusive data found here is that police by and large stop people who live in poor areas that creates a feeling of fear and submission to law enforcement that hardly protects and serves. Governor Paterson made the right decision yesterday in ending this police-state procedure, and I for one applaud him.