HARLEM — East Harlem's 23rd Precinct had more stop-and-frisks in 2011 than any other precinct in Manhattan — with over 17,000 stops, according to data released by the New York City Police Department.
The district led the next closest precinct, Harlem's 32nd precinct, by more than 4,600 stops, according to the statistics.
Suspicion of weapons possession accounted for almost half of the stops, or 47.6 percent, according to police.
As in the rest of the city, Black people were stopped and frisked more often than those of other races. Although Blacks make up 25.5 percent of residents in the neighborhood, they made up almost 61 percent of the stops in the 23rd precinct. According to the statistics, Blacks made half of all known crime suspects in the district.
"That's racial profiling," said Darius Charney, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who is suing the city in a class action lawsuit that charges that stop-and-frisk amounts to racial profiling and is unconstitutional.
Overall, Blacks made up half of the 686,000 stops even though they account for 23.4 percent of the city's population. NYPD officials said the number of stops was low given the 19,600 who were on patrol in 2011.
Charney disagreed. "It's really race that's driving that activity. The less white a neighborhood is, the more stops that happen there," he said.
Hispanics make up 51.5 percent of the residential population in the 23rd Precinct but represented just 36 percent of the people who were stopped.
East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito said the number of stops in the 23rd precinct are disconcerting.
"I have expressed that the situation is so aggressive and so negative that it doesn't make the neighborhood safer. It's really stigmatizing to the young people who are stopped," said Mark-Viverito.
The 23rd Precinct recently received a new commander and Mark-Viverito said she hopes that the new leadership is open to change.
A spokesman for the 23rd Precinct could not be reached for comment. The Bloomberg Administration has credited stop-and-frisk with helping to reduce crime.
Both Mark-Viverito and Charney said there were other methods that could be used to attack crime in the neighborhood. Mark-Viverito said a strategy of focusing on the small group of troublemakers in an area might work better than targeting everyone in the neighborhood.
"The lack of willingness to explore other viable options is a problem," said Mark-Viverito.