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Fact Sheet

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.

Published: October 7, 2016

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.