Stop-and-frisk leads to few convictions: AG

Photo courtesy Eric Schneiderman
By Rich Bockmann

Aside from its questionable legality, the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program is highly ineffective at catching criminals, with just 3 percent of stops resulting in a conviction, a new report by the state attorney general found.

The report released last week by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that only half of the nearly 150,000 stop-and-frisk arrests police made between 2009 and 2012 — or 3 percent of the 2.4 million stops made during the period — resulted in either a guilty plea or conviction at trial.

“My office’s analysis of the city’s stop-and-frisk practices has broad implications for law enforcement, both in New York City and across the state. It’s our hope that this report — the first of its kind — will advance the discussion about how to fight crime without overburdening our institutions or violating equal justice under the law,” the attorney general said.

“The vast amount of data we analyzed over four years should serve as a helpful guide to municipalities and law enforcement officials around the state, where stop-and-frisk practices are used to varying degrees,” he added.

Using data provided by the Police Department and the state Office of Court Administration, the AG’s study looked at the 6 percent of stops that lead to an arrest and found that few involved guns or violent crimes.

Marijuana possession was the most common arrest charge (14.9 percent) along with arraignment charge (16.9 percent), but when it came to convictions it dropped to 6.3 percent, likely through plea bargaining, the AG found.

The most common convictions were on charges of disorderly conduct (38.1 percent) and trespassing (13.16 percent).

Weapons offenses made up 12.3 percent of arrest charges, but just 3.8 percent of convictions — representing 0.1 percent of total stops.

The attorney general also found there to be a large racial disparity when it comes to having cases dismissed.

White arrestees are 50 percent more likely to receive an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal — where the defendant neither admits guilt or is found innocent — on marijuana possession than are black arrestees, the study showed.

Schneiderman’s report comes at a time when the legality of the NYPD’s controversial practices is up in the air. Earlier this year a federal judge ruled the department’s use of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional, but an appeals panel later stayed the ruling and removed the judge from the case as the city made its appeal.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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