MANHATTAN — Well-trained cops who are better at spotting suspicious behavior are part of the reason stop-and-frisks have dropped dramatically this year, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday.
At a press conference at police headquarters, Kelly responded to a report that the controversial practice of cops stopping and searching people — the majority of whom are young black and Latino men — fell by 34 percent between the first and second quarters of this year. Viewed as a crime reduction tool by law enforcement, stop-and-frisk however has triggered criticism from elected officials and civil liberties groups.
Kelly linked the decline in part to a department-wide retraining program where lawyers worked with officers to explain exactly what type of behavior rises to the level of "reasonable suspicion" and justifies a stop.
Another factor could be a change in record-keeping that eliminated redundancies in how stop and frisks are counted, Kelly said.
The plummeting number of stop-and-frisks could also be related to how officers are deployed, Kelly said. The NYPD has reduced the number of "impact" officers — rookies assigned to high-crime areas — who conducted about 30 percent of stop and frisks earlier this year.
Kelly said it wasn't the case that intense criticism of stop-and-frisks contributed to the reassignment of impact officers.
"Obviously there's attention and scrutiny on it," Kelly said. "That's really why we engaged in the new training evolution, but the reduction of officers assigned to impact really had to do with our own personnel needs."