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How Critics of NYC "Stop and Frisk" Reframed the Debate With Police Data

August 14, 2013 09:35:24 am

The concerted opposition to New York City's stop-and-frisk practices started in a 2011 meeting of 40 researchers, lawyers, and community activists, the New York Times reports. The groups coalesced under the name Communities United for Police Reform, fanned out into neighborhoods with heavy police activity, and became a regular and loud presence at rallies on the steps of City Hall and outside the federal courthouse.

Their efforts, backed by $2.2 million from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, set the stage for a repudiation of the department’s signature street-level tactic, long defended by several mayors. In the City Council in June and in a federal court on Monday, the Police Department suffered severe setbacks to its crime policy. It faces a court-ordered monitor, two police oversight laws, and what the Times says is "the possibility that its perceived legacy of a significant decline in crime may come with an asterisk." Police spokesman Paul Browne says, "They redefined it successfully." He said that, “by using data we’re required to produce,” critics managed to reframe the debate over the stop-and-frisk policy as a numbers-oriented calculation of how often the police interactions resulted in arrests or summonses.

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