Posted on September 7, 2011

‘New York Times’ on a Racial Profiling Goose Chase

Mona Charen, The Tennessean, September 5, 2011


A Aug. 31, 2011, story by Al Baker covers a federal judge’s ruling that a case challenging the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policy can go forward. {snip}

{snip} The suit alleges that the NYPD’s policy is based “not on reasonable suspicion of individuals but on racial profiling.”

The judge declined to dismiss the case, saying, “This case presents an issue of great public concern. Writ large, that issue is the disproportionate number of African-Americans and Latinos who become entangled in our criminal justice system, as compared to Caucasians.” Note the passive voice. Like flies in a spider’s web, they become “entangled” in the criminal justice system.

{snip} The story editorializes: “As a practical matter, the stops display a measurable racial disparity: Black and Hispanic people generally represent more than 85 percent of those stopped by the police, though their combined populations make up a small share of the city’s racial composition.”

OK. Are there any other relevant statistics here? The story does cite Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly’s position that “The racial breakdown of the stops correlates to the racial breakdown of crime suspects.” But no sooner does the story allude to the elephant in the room than it takes issue with the NYPD, warning that the rising number of stops is “bringing the practice under increasing scrutiny from lawmakers (no one is quoted), academics (ditto), the Center for Constitutional Rights and the New York Civil Liberties Union.”

With the exception of the glancing reference to Kelly’s explanation, The New York Times never provides the most relevant statistics regarding minorities and violent crime, which concern not the percentage of blacks or Hispanics in the population, but the percentage of those who commit violent crimes. City Journal’s Heather MacDonald supplied them:

“Blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crimes in the first half of 2009 (though they were only 55 percent of all stops and only 23 percent of the city’s population). Blacks committed 80 percent of all shootings in the first half of 2009. Together, blacks and Hispanics committed 98 percent of all shootings. Blacks committed nearly 70 percent of all robberies. Whites, by contrast, committed 5 percent of all violent crimes in the first half of 2009, though they are 35 percent of the city’s population (and were 10 percent of all stops). They committed 1.8 percent of all shootings and less than 5 percent of all robberies.”

According to The New York Times and the CCR, police should respond to crimes only in proportion to population statistics. {snip}