Monday, April 9th, 2012

It's Okay, Say Cops: Black People Stop and Frisk Themselves Now

“There’s all this talk about stop-and-frisks, whether it’s racist or harassment, but the public totally misses the game,” a Brooklyn cop says. “You know all the guys in the neighborhood, and usually when we roll up they frisk themselves. That is, if it’s a night they don’t feel like being bothered, they just lift up their shirts when we stop, and then they move on. If they feel like making a point to the boys they’re hanging with on the corner, they won’t do it. But the people who carry guns and shoot each other where I work are not white. There are no white people to begin with! But I always laugh. The civil-liberties people are the reason we have stop-and-frisk reports in the first place. The theory was, if cops were forced to write down what they were doing, they wouldn’t be so haphazard about stopping people and frisking them. But because the department loves data, now those reports are activity that can prove you’re taking action at CompStat.”

Today's New York magazine piece on the NYPD is kinda dark! Despite this, I still feel for the cops, who are trapped between a public who's largely grown to hate them (again) and a numbers-obsessed bureaucracy that can't let crime numbers go up.

9 Comments / Post A Comment

davetar (#1,114)

A society that won't tolerate any increases in taxes or any increases in crime seems to be headed in a certain direction.

skahammer (#587)

I question whether the public hates the police. The material issue is how they fare in comparison to plausible alternatives. Would the public prefer that local law enforcement be federalized? Or outsourced? Or privatized?

I mean, I guess the obvious choice would be Google — but look at how people react when asked to contribute a little bit of personal information in order to use an otherwise free service.

Leon (#6,596)

@skahammer – Nope, most people totally hate cops. Not rationally – I have known a bunch of them, and they had the same asshole:nice person ratio of any other collection of people I met. When I got burglarized they were nice and helpful and, frankly, way more responsive than I thought even necessary, considering the fact that it was an obvious "in and out of an empty home" robbery and the stuff stolen wasn't worth so much.

I don't use any illegal substances, don't even drink on the streets anymore, and yet, when I'm standing in front of my apartment because I don't like to smoke cigarettes in doors and the cops roll past slow…eh, I just don't like it.

I think it's because there's no real effort at community outreach. I don't know who they are. They don't ever stop and shoot the shit about weather. The only time people have interactions with cops is when they're getting shit from them.

And I don't blame the cops for this! They're payscale is…weird (so low to start, so generous to retire), the hours suck, and they probably don't have enough of them for cops to just stop and BS with me about the Yankees or Rimbaud.

Imagine if they did though? If I knew my neighborhood beat cops as well as my bodega guys, barber, bootleg guy, produce lady, or bartender, I bet all of this shit would be a lot better. You're a lot less likely to abuse the civil rights of somebody who's name you know.

skahammer (#587)

When you decide to speak for "most people," how many are you thinking of?

@skahammer, Leon Saint-Jean : Allow me to provide the most recent data point a quick Google search could produce.

In a 2011 Gallup poll of Americans' confidence in various civil institutions, 56% of respondents said that they had "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the police, 30% said they had "some" confidence, and 13% had "a little or no" confidence in the police. This places "the police" as the third most-trusted institution on the list, below "small business" but just above "the church or organized religion." Now granted, "the police, as an institution" != "the police" or even "my local policeman", but, still interesting.

skahammer (#587)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose: Thanks for this.

I'm still open to evidence that people still hate the police despite 86% of poll respondents having "some confidence" in them.

But it does seem to me that if you want to say "most people hate the fuzz," you have a pretty high evidentiary bar to clear. Even just a single expression of displeasure — a poll answer of "no confidence," for example — wouldn't close the deal, in my opinion. People announce all the time how much they hate rain or traffic or lawyers, for instance, but I suspect their track record at actually pursuing alternatives (moving to the desert, taking public transport, representing themselves in legal matters) is unsteady at best.

If you really hate something, then I figure you're going to pursue alternative measures at most every opportunity. My view is that most people, faced with a stolen vehicle or a break-in, are probably going to call the local police rather than their congressman or their cousin Vinny or whomever.

See also: Latinos, "self-deporting".

deepomega (#1,720)

The hard part is finding young black men willing to shoot themselves.

bassknives (#2,903)

@deepomega What if we offer them an unpaid internship?

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