Fact Sheet: Stop and Frisk’s Effect on Crime in New York City

Statistically, no relationship between stop-and-frisk and crime seems apparent. New York remains safer than it was 5, 10, or 25 years ago.

October 7, 2016

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This fact sheet provides data on the effect of “stop-and-frisk” on crime in New York City, updating an earlier Brennan Center analysis.

Stop-and-frisk was a police practice under which officers stopped and searched citizens, allegedly without the reasonable suspicion required for these interventions.

Concerns about the program first arose under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, during William J. Bratton’s first tenure as police commissioner. After growing slowly in the early 2000s, stop-and-frisk began to rapidly increase in 2006, when there were 500,000 stops citywide. By 2011 the number peaked at 685,000. It then began to fall, first to 533,000 stops in 2012.

Stop-and-frisk became a central issue in the 2013 city mayoral race because of a concern that the program unconstitutionally targeted communities of color. The program’s supporters disputed this, insisting that stop-and-frisk was essential for fighting crime in such a huge city.

In August 2013, federal district court judge Shira Scheindlin found that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional. The stop-and-frisk era formally drew to a close in January 2014, when newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio settled the litigation and ended the program.

Given this large-scale effort, one might expect crime generally, and murder specifically, to increase as stops tapered off between 2012 and 2014. Instead, as shown below, the murder rate fell while the number of stops declined. In fact, the biggest fall occurred precisely when the number of stops also fell by a large amount — in 2013.

Fact Sheet: Stop and Frisk’s Effect on Crime in New York City by The Brennan Center for Justice on Scribd