One of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first acts after being elected this past November was to reappoint William Bratton as commissioner of New York City’s police department. Bratton’s reputation rests on his work, in New York and Los Angeles, as a proponent of so-called “broken windows” policing. He asserts that aggressively going after very minor offenses—not merely misdemeanors but infractions like littering, sitting on stoops and carrying open beer cans—will bring the overall rate of violent crime down as well. It is this program that has led to the stopping, frisking and general harassing of millions of New Yorkers, the overwhelming majority without probable cause.
There were 4.4 million stops by the NYPD between 2004 and 2012. Ten
percent of those stops were of whites, 84 percent were of blacks and
Latinos. Of those 4.4 million stops, only 6 percent led to an arrest, 6
percent to a summons. The remaining 88 percent resulted in no other
action—in other words, they involved unequivocally innocent people.