Bratton’s Endorsement of Stop-and-Frisk

Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, December 5, 2013

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has named William J. Bratton his Police Commissioner. In returning to the job he held under Rudolph Giuliani in the nineteen-nineties, Bratton will be in charge of fulfilling one of de Blasio’s most prominent campaign promises: to end the stop-and-frisk tactics that were such a prominent part of Michael Bloomberg’s record as Mayor.

But Bratton’s views on stop-and-frisk may be considerably different from those of his new boss. In May of this year, I profiled Shira Scheindlin, the federal judge who presided over the class-action lawsuit that challenged the N.Y.P.D.’s stop-and-frisk policies. In the course of reporting that piece, I interviewed Bratton, and we discussed stop-and-frisk in some detail.

Bratton emphatically endorsed stop-and-frisk as a police tactic. “First off, stop-question-and-frisk has been around forever,” he told me. “It is known by stop-and-frisk in New York, but other cities describe it other ways, like stop-question-and-frisk or Terry stops. It’s based on a Supreme Court case from 1968, Terry v. Ohio, which focussed very significantly on it. Stop-and-frisk is such a basic tool of policing. It’s one of the most fundamental practices in American policing. If cops are not doing stop-and-frisk, they are not doing their jobs. It is a basic, fundamental tool of police work in the whole country. If you do away with stop-and-frisk, this city will go down the chute as fast as anything you can imagine.”

We also discussed the current controversy over stop-and-frisk under Raymond Kelly, Bloomberg’s Police Commissioner. “What you have right now is a controversy in which nobody really understands what they are fighting about,” Bratton said. “Stop-and-frisk is not a tool solely to look for guns. Unfortunately, both the Mayor and the Police Commissioner refer to it that way, and that’s a problem because so few guns are recovered. But so what? The vast majority of stops are for a wide variety of things. Is someone drinking a can of beer on the corner? You want to stop that behavior. If somebody is aggressively panhandling on the street, urinating against a building. Is there somebody that you suspect is casing a building? Or is that two guys just locked out of their apartment? Police officers notice what may be a burglary. Of course they should be noticing and investigating. There are countless examples of what you want police to do.”


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  • Is this an indication that Bill DeOildrillio was posturing when he said he would get rid of SQF?

    Or is this an example of Bratton whoring himself politically?

    My bet is on the latter.

    • Pro_Whitey

      Yes. Remember the line, lies, damned lies, and statistics? Bratton is a specialist in number three on that list.

    • Svigor

      Kind of a win-win here. If NYC continues SQF, then everyone else will consider it permission to use SQF, too. If NYC stops, then we get to watch the big apple rot.

  • Alexandra1973

    Can’t help but think that if you kick certain groups out, there’d be no NEED for stop-and-frisk.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    Crime rate going up in the big apple…

  • pcmustgo

    I think it’s telling DeBlasio named the same police chief as the one who served under Giuliani because liberals *hated Giuliani… And Giuliani’s hallmark was ‘get tough on crime’. Yeah, he’s definitely one two-faced politician.

    • gregCall

      As long as he’s betraying his wife’s race instead of his own I can live with that. At least the political two-facedness isn’t working against us for once.

  • JohnEngelman

    I have been stopped and frisked a number of times. It did not bother me. I had not been doing anything wrong. I did not have any reason to fear.

    • bilderbuster

      That was almost standard procedure when we were teens just walking down the street. We didn’t like it at all but could do nothing about it.
      The coppers, especially the Latinos, loved to frisk the pretty 14 & 15 year old girls.
      Many were propositioned for sexual favors.
      We were White & local & the rare crimes that happened there were mostly committed by non-White outsiders.
      We had reason to fear being beaten or arrested falsely if we protested.

      • Paleoconn

        I very much doubt your story. I also doubt the Latino cops frisking young girls. If that were the case it should have been reported, there is a word for that and the word is pedophilia.

        • bilderbuster

          Whether you believe it or not is irrelevant.
          It did get out.
          Miami cops were getting arrested for much worse than that in the 80’s.

    • I don’t mind it, either. The way I see it, if the cops pat me down, they can do a few greaseritos and blacks the same day without anyone griping that they are “profiling” folks who need to be profiled.

      If I was really doing anything illegal, I’d pepper-spray the cop and then open up his or her femoral artery with my box-cutter. No problems. I don’t do this precisely because my only serious legal problem was with my ex-father and an FBI agent who threatened me with extra-judicial punishment and nobody else.

      That said, nobody in their right mind, police or other is coming into our house unless we say so. We would prefer to kill them and then stand charges.

      • Paleoconn

        I can see you being stopped and frisked cause you’re half Indian and an ex-con. I don’t buy the other clown’s fairy tales.

        • I normally don’t get stopped and frisked precisely because I behave in a responsible manner. The cops don’t know who I am just looking at me. I could be anybody, like a successful chemical engineer in the microelectronics industry.

    • Paleoconn

      You’re lying

      • JohnEngelman

        No. I had nothing to lie about.

    • me

      Really? What do you look like?

      • JohnEngelman

        Jack the Ripper.

        More seriously, I walk around after dark a lot.

  • IstvanIN

    As a liberal I am against stop-and-frisk. I would be very annoyed if I were stopped-and-frisked. As a pragmatist I am for it. There is no way to completely rid the world of crime, even Singapore needs jails, but the only practical way to end stop-and-frisk is to eliminate blacks and mestizos from the population.

    • Alexandra1973

      I’d be against it on Fourth Amendment grounds.

      To me that begs the question, should we consider Africans to be Americans to begin with? I think we know the answer to that one.

      • Pro_Whitey

        That was the argument of Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scott decision. When federal law allowed only free white persons to become naturalized citizens, how could a black slave become a citizen?

    • MBlanc46

      I think I see what you mean, but I’d say that since we can’t eliminate blacks from the population, we may have to begin taking a dual approach to civil liberties–one for whites and one for blacks.

      • Alexandra1973

        Don’t we already do that? White kids get punished for chewing gum, black kids get away with murder.

        • MBlanc46

          Sure, but that’s all in one direction, and not at the constitutional level. I’m suggesting that we begin to take race into account in interpreting the Bill of Rights. One set of protections for whites (and Asians) and another, more restricted, set for blacks (and Hispanics). You could achieve the same results by using crime propensity as the criterion, but that would involve race, due to “disparate impact”, so you might as well just address race explicitly.

          • me

            We used to do that, and it was called ‘segregation’. Worked pretty well, too, until the ‘royal Kennedy family’ helped put an end to that.

          • MBlanc46

            I hope that there’s a chance of getting back there, although there would have to be a strong voluntary element to it.

          • Once upon a time, we did “take race into account in interpreting the BoR.”

  • bigone4u

    The idea of a color blind society is nonsense in many ways, but it’s at its most nonsensical when it comes to crime. If a black male holds up a liquor store, no white woman is going to match the description of the perp, so why should she be stopped and frisked. Ditto the white and Chinese man. Politics and law enforcement are getting badly entangled. Let the professionals in law do their job. It saves lives.

  • Spartacus

    How long till New York looks like Detroit ? My bet is 10-15 years .

    • me

      You’d better put Snake Plissken’s phone number on speed dial….

  • Dave4088

    Bratton is admitting that it requires extra legal means to keep the violent black and brown population of the Big Apple

    • It isn’t “extra-legal”. The whole “Terry stop” question was settled by the US Supreme Court in 1968. That’s 45 years ago!

      • Dave4088

        I agree, but pundits on the left (and a few on the kosher right) still believe that “stop and frisk” stretches probable cause to the breaking point. And I guarantee if Obama gets to appoint another (in)justice to SCOTUS they will probably reverse their earlier ruling.

        • I wouldn’t be so sure about SCOTUS reversing the 1968 ruling. I’ve never heard of the Supreme Court re-hearing a legal matter.

          • Dave4088

            It could be challenged on different legal grounds than the original case similar to how Obamacare was challenged and is still being challenged several different ways. A left leaning SCOTUS could wind up gutting “stop and frisk” similar to what they did with Arizona’s law dealing with illegal aliens. It could still exist in some fashion but much harder to put into practice.

  • dd121

    Why shouldn’t they profile blacks? They commit most of the violent crime.

  • Mike Conrad

    If black people truly thought they bore the brunt of criminal activity (as professional sociologists tell us), rather than originated most of it, they’d be the loudest voices demanding stop-question-and-frisk.

  • libertarian1234

    “If you do away with stop-and-frisk, this city will go down the chute as fast as anything you can imagine.”

    At last some good news.

    Because “stop and frisk” will be stopped.

    Seeing that cesspool implode will be the entertainment hit of the year.

    • me

      Broadcast it on pay-per-view.

  • Jackryanvb

    What you wished for was the reality New York City ~1965- 1992.

    I guess there was some “education” as liberal Jewish voters elected Guliani and others became Neo Conservative at the National level. I thought at the time this was a good thing, now Neo Conservatives at the National Review are forcing us to bow down and worship Saint Nelson Mandela and Saint Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Paleoconn

    You’ve never been ‘saddled’ with anything. Whites are saddled. We’re the world’s beasts of burden.

  • Massif1

    Stop and Frisk works just like metal detectors in ghetto schools work.

  • Rex

    NYC is doomed without or with stop and frisk. Millions of Black welfare recipients and drug dealers have moved here from the south and northern States in the past few years. The irony is that thousands of Whites fleeing other States and escaping racial violence and lack of job opportunities for Whites have also arrived to New York City. I see Whites, nice people, couples panhandling and sleeping on sidewalks.There are no Section 8 and City Housing for Whites . It’s all 100% Black and Hispanic. de Blasio is what this City really doesn’t need at this time in history and he wants to take away the few resources from corporations which are paying zillions of dollars in taxes and from working people to give them to his Welfare Tribe in order to stop “economic inequality”. These Blacks and Hispanics got it all already. Those who need help are the Whites. Hope that this stupid next Mayor wakes up to reality.

    • Svigor

      The black population of NYC has been decreasing for years.

      • judenjager

        The WORKING black population… Fixed it for ya……………..

  • Rex

    You are part of the problem and not the solution. Unfairly frisked??? What are they doing at 2am in the night with a hood on their head?

  • Reverend Bacon

    It would have to reach the tipping point- say, 40% to 50% black. White people are only liberals until liberalism and its consequences start to encroach upon their bubbles. The reason that Giuliani got elected was because that encroachment had happened, and someone needed to push the reset button.

  • IstvanIN

    Forcing people to “integrate” is very Soviet. Remember a little thing called “Russification”?

  • They’re not always right, but SCOTUS does a reasonably good job compared with its equivalent in other nations.

  • bilderbuster

    They were Cubans.

  • Perhaps for all his posturing about SQF, de Blasio understands quite well that NYC would become totally unmanageable without this policy. Professional politicians say all sorts of completely nonsensical things while campaigning that they don’t really mean. Remember President Oogabooga’s promise to close the Guantanamo detention facilities? Viewed in this light, my suspicion is that de Blasio’s choice of Bratton as his Police Commissioner was not really an accident.

    Even if he is currently either unable or unwilling to understand it now, abandoning SQF is going to force the libtard oil-driller to eventually acknowledge that young black and brown men really do commit most of the violent crime in the country. Without SQF, New York City will quickly degenerate back into something closely resembling the primate house at a zoo, and the policy will just as quickly be reimplemented.

  • Jackryanvb

    Bratton is as good as we are going to get in this fallen age. He knows the media, PR, racial realities, but he’s tough…. He saved New York City once.

  • Jesse James

    Then let it fail and split apart. I am white and I feel like a second class citizen everyday in Amerika.