Statements Of Mayor Bloomberg And Commissioner Kelly On Federal Court Ruling

August 12, 2013

The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's remarks as delivered today at City Hall:

“Good afternoon – I’m joined by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo.

“Every day Commissioner Kelly and I wake up determined to keep New Yorkers safe and save lives. Our crime strategies and tools – including Stop-Question-Frisk – have made New York City the safest big city in America. And I’m happy to say we are on pace for another record low number of shootings and homicides this year because our police officers follow the law and follow the crime.

“They fight crime wherever crime is occurring, and they don’t worry if their work doesn’t match up to a census chart. As a result, today we have fewer guns, fewer shootings, and fewer homicides. In fact, murders are 50 percent below the level they were 12 years ago when we came into office – something no one thought possible back then.

“Stop-Question-Frisk – which the Supreme Court of the United States has found to be constitutional – is an important part of that record of success. It has taken some 8,000 guns off the street over the past decade – and some 80,000 other weapons.

“As guns continue to flow onto our streets from other states, we have to take every constitutionally protected step at our disposal to keep them out – and to keep them from being used to kill innocent people.

“Today, we have the lowest percentage of teenagers carrying guns of any major city across our country – and the possibility of being stopped acts a vital deterrent, which is a critically important byproduct of Stop-Question-Frisk.

“The fact that fewer guns are on the street now shows that our efforts have been successful. There is just no question that Stop-Question-Frisk has saved countless lives. And we know that most of the lives saved, based on the statistics, have been black and Hispanic young men.

“It’s worth remembering that as recently as 1990, New York City averaged more than six murders a day. Today, we’ve driven that down to less than one murder a day.

“Think about what that change really means: if murder rates over the last 11 years had been the same as the previous 11 years, more than 7,300 people who today are alive would be dead.

“Stop-Question-Frisk has helped us prevent those and other crimes from occurring – which has not only saved lives, it has helped us to reduce incarceration rates by 30 percent, even as incarceration rates in the rest of the nation have gone up.

“That’s why people across the country and around the world have come to learn about how the NYPD has been so successful, and how we’ve driven crime down to record lows. We are the poster child that everybody wants to follow.

“Throughout the trial that just concluded, the judge made it clear she was not at all interested in the crime reductions here or how we achieved them. In fact, nowhere in her 195-page decision does she mention the historic cuts in crime or the number of lives that have been saved.

“She ignored the real-world realities of crime, the fact that stops match-up with crime statistics, and the fact that our police officers on patrol – the majority of whom are black, Hispanic, or members of other ethnic or racial minorities – make an average about less than one stop a week.

“And even though the plaintiff’s own expert found that about 90 percent of stops have been conducted appropriately and lawfully, and another 5 percent may well have been conducted appropriately and lawfully, the judge still wants to put the NYPD into receivership based on the flimsiest of evidence in a handful of cases.

“No federal judge has ever imposed a monitor over a city’s police department following a civil trial. The Department of Justice – under Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama – never, not once, found reason to investigate the NYPD.

“But one small group of advocates – and one judge – conducted their own investigation. And it was pretty clear from the start which way it would turn out.

“Given the judge’s public comments and media interviews throughout the case, this decision was certainly not a surprise. From even before the start of the case, when she offered some strategic advice to the plaintiffs that would allow her to hear the case, the judge clearly telegraphed her intentions.

“And she conveyed a disturbing disregard for the good intentions of our police officers, who form the most diverse Police Department in the country, and who put their lives on the line for us every single day.

“Throughout the case, we didn’t believe that we were getting a fair trial. This decision confirms that suspicion, and we will be presenting evidence of that unfairness to the Appeals Court.

“We will also be pointing out to the Appeals Court that Supreme Court precedents were largely ignored in this decision. The NYPD’s ability to stop and question suspects that officers have reason to believe have committed crimes, or are about to commit crimes, is the kind of policing that courts across the nation have found, for decades, to be constitutionally valid.

“If this decision were to stand, it would turn those precedents on their head – and make our city, and in fact the whole country, a more dangerous place.

“Let’s be clear: People have a right to walk down the street without being targeted by the police – and we have a duty to uphold that right, which is why I’ve signed a law banning racial profiling, and it’s why the NYPD has intensified its training around Stop-Question-Frisk.

“But people also have a right to walk down the street without being killed or mugged. And for those rights to be protected, we have to give the members of our Police Department the tools they need to do their jobs without being micro-managed and second-guessed every day by a judge or a monitor.

“As mayor, my number one responsibility is protecting public safety – and doing so in a way that complies with the law and respects the rights of all New Yorkers.

“Together with Police Commissioner Kelly we have done that – and we will continue to do that as we appeal this decision.

“Commissioner Kelly, would you say a few words?”

The following are Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly’s remarks as delivered today at City Hall:

“Thank you, Mr. Mayor. What I find most disturbing and offensive about this decision is the notion that the NYPD engages in racial profiling. That simply is recklessly untrue. We do not engage in racial profiling, it is prohibited by law, it is prohibited by our own regulations. We train our officers that they need reasonable suspicion to make a stop, and I can assure you that race is never a reason to conduct a stop. The NYPD is the most racially and ethnically diverse police department in the world.

“In contrast with some societies, New York City and its Police Department have focused their crime fighting efforts to protect the poorest members of our community who are disproportionately the victims of murder and other violent crime – disturbingly so.

“To that point, last year 97 percent of all shooting victims were black or Hispanic and reside in low-income neighborhoods. Public housing where five percent of the city’s population resides experiences 20 percent of the shootings. There were more stops with suspicious activity in neighborhoods with higher crime because that’s where the crime is.

“Police stops are just one component of multiple efforts by the Department that have saved lives and driven the murder rate to record lows. In the first 11 years of Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure there were 7,363 fewer murders in New York City compared to the 11 years prior to the Mayor taking office. And if history is any guide, those lives saved were overwhelmingly the lives of young men of color.

“Now, this didn’t happen by accident, it was a result of proactive policing supported by this Mayor. There’s little question that police stops in this case continue to be deeply misunderstood.

“The fact that they often do not lead to arrests or summonses misses the point. When a police officer stops and makes inquiry of an individual about to burglarize a location the officer has stopped a burglary. When officers stop and make inquiry of young men about to strong-arm a bodega owner as he leaves his store late at night they’ve stopped a robbery or perhaps worse.

“But obviously stops for suspicious behavior do lead to good arrests as well. We’ve taken about 8,000 guns from individuals over the last decade this way. Something our critics sneer because the number is ‘too low’ compared to the number of stops, despite the fact that stops average, as the Mayor said, less than one per week per officer on patrol.

“On Saturday a man threw a duffle bag into the trunk of a double-parked car in Washington Heights. When officers approached the man, he ran. That’s suspicious behavior. They found $750,000 worth of heroin in the trunk. They arrested the suspects and spared the untold misery that three-quarters of a million dollars worth of drug addiction can cause to families who can least afford it.

“The appointment of a monitor, while unnecessary in this most monitored police department already, I believe will only document what we have known all along, that the New York City Police Department saves lives and that it trains its officers to do so lawfully and with full respect of the Constitution that serves and protects us all.

“Franklin Zimring, the respected Berkeley Law professor, wrote the definitive book on New York City’s crime decline calling it deeper and longer lasting than any city in the country. He called it a Guinness Book of Records reduction. In this review of Zimring’s book, the Atlantic Magazine made this observation, ‘But just as the cost of aggressive crime control are disproportionately borne by the disadvantaged, so too have been the benefits: the reduction in crime is one of the few public goods in New York that is truly progressive, benefiting disproportionately the poor and vulnerable, who need it most.’ Thank you Mr. Mayor.”

Marc LaVorgna

(212) 788-2958