CITY HALL — Just days after Mayor Michael Bloomberg credited soaring numbers of stop-and-frisks with slashing the city's murder rate, he's now suggesting the spike may actually come down to bad record keeping by the NYPD.
Speaking to reporters in the Bronx, Bloomberg suggested the controversial 600 percent increase in stops recorded by police since he took office — a figure that has caused outrage among civil liberty groups — may actually be down to poor bookkeeping in the past.
"There’s a good argument to be made — nobody’s really sure — but that the number of stop-and-frisks really haven’t gone up very much," he said.
"It’s that now we categorize them."
He argued that what’s really changed is the quality of police record-keeping.
"We have a form that the police officers fill out and we report that data," he said.
"And so there’s more data. But we may have been doing exactly the same number going back for a decent amount of time."
Police made a whopping 685,724 stops last year, and are on track to surpass more than 800,000 stops this year, riling critics who equate the program with racial profiling because of the extent to which it targets young black and Hispanic men.
Bloomberg told congregants at a black church on Sunday he understood the frustration felt by those subjected to stops, and said the policy needed to be "mended, not ended, to ensure that stops are conducted appropriately, with as much courtesy as possible."
He added Monday that he expected the number of stop-and-frisks to drop "significantly" thanks to new legislation being pushed by the governor that would make public possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation instead of a crime.
Opponents of the policing method are planning a giant protest march on Father's Day.