Stop-and-Frisks a 'Necessary Evil,' Police Official Tells Bushwick Locals

By Meredith Hoffman on June 21, 2012 8:05am 

Community Affairs Officer Dean Elmore spoke with a teen about stop-and-frisk at an 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Bushwick.
Community Affairs Officer Dean Elmore spoke with a teen about stop-and-frisk at an 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Bushwick.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

BUSHWICK — The public needs to provide better descriptions of criminals to avoid large numbers of stop-and-frisk incidents, said a police official who termed the controversial tactic a "necessary evil."

The enhanced details would help police to avoid stopping "almost everybody," Det. Dean Elmore, bureau liaison for the Community Affairs Bureau of the Brooklyn/Staten Island Outreach Unit, told locals at a the 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday night.

"You have to be more specific," Elmore said. "Be particular with your descriptions. If you're not particular, almost everbody's being stopped."

The 83rd Precinct's outreach attempt brought teens to the Knickerbocker Avenue station house to discuss the controversial tactic, following citywide protests decrying the NYPD's record number of 685,724 stop-and-frisks last year.

Elmore urged greater participation at community council meetings as a means to reduce stop-and-frisk incidents.

"If the community came out, stop-and-frisk would ease up because you see things we don't see," Elmore said. "To tell you the truth, I don't like stop-and-frisk myself, but it's a necessary evil."

Elmore, flanked by precinct commander Deputy Inspector Anthony Tasso, said that an officer should explain why he or she is performing the stop-and-frisk — for example, "you fit the description of a robbery a few blocks away" — and if the officer finds that the person isn't a suspect, the officer should apologize.

"Cops are human beings, too," with different levels of professionalism and respect, Tasso said, urging people to report inappropriate stop-and-frisks to 311.

Elmore emphasized that locals also be particular with cops' descriptions.

"You have to be specific in your description of the officer, and where and when it happened," he said. "We'll know who it was."

But Nazareth Regional High School student Robyn Camacho, 17, who attended the meeting to ask about her brother's recent experience with stop-and-frisk, challenged cops' claims that some officers would be penalized for stop-and-frisk.

"Inside these walls there are ties between police officers, like a family," said Camacho, who noted her father is a former cop.

"There are repercussions," Elmore replied.

Camacho said that many of her friends were hesitant to come inside the station house, but she took the opportunity to discuss her concerns one-on-one with precinct cops.

"We'll see," she said of the interaction. "We'll see if they listen."

Elmore told DNAinfo.com New York on Wednesday that stop-and-frisk is a fact of life in tough neighborhoods.

"In areas where there's high crime, you're going to get stopped," Elmore said. "They're going to want to know who you are and where you're going."

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