A series of incidents last year, in some cases where police broke the law, has sullied the reputation of the NYPD. From the department’s handling of Occupy protesters and journalists, to officers’ participation in illegal gun sales and a ticket-fixing scandal, to rape charges and reports that allege the targeting of Muslims, the NYPD’s pattern of abuse, law-breaking, and poor judgment is raising questions about whether some of New York’s finest are operating as rogue units. A disturbing series of events, including beatings and the shooting death of an unarmed teenager in the Bronx, are causing some to wonder whether Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are condoning the behavior or are unable to impose discipline on the department.
Along with the patterns of violence, new reports show that stop-and-frisk rates went through the roof in 2011, making it a record-breaking year for the controversial practice. Stop-and-frisks may only legally be used when police have reasonable suspicion someone has a gun, but they are widely abused, and have been targeted as the source of aggressive, race-based policing and what many consider to be illegal marijuana arrests.