Jewish World Review July 26, 2013/ 19 Menachem-Av, 5773
Thank you, Ray Kelly
By Rich Lowry
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | President Barack Obama shouldn’t nominate Ray Kelly to be secretary of homeland security. He should give the New York City police chief a stern talking to. He should invite him to examine his conscience and consider the error of his ways. Failing that, he should hold him up to national obloquy.
At least that’s the logic of the president’s remarks on the George Zimmerman case last week. The president has had kind words for Kelly but the president’s supporters have been pointing out the contradiction: In his meditation on the Zimmerman case, Obama dwelt on the evils of stereotyping, and Commissioner Kelly stands accused of policing an entire city on the basis of just that.
Already politically embattled, New York City’s stop-and-frisk policing is now in the cross hairs as allegedly an officially sanctioned, citywide version of Zimmerman’s suspicion of Trayvon Martin that created the predicate for the tragedy in Sanford, Fla. “Stop and frisk is both racist and damaging to actual police work,” wrote Jamelle Bouie in the American Prospect.
Kelly unquestionably operates from this disadvantage: Musing from a podium is easy. Policing a city is hard. He doesn’t get to deal in airy generalities. He doesn’t get to wave off inconvenient realities. His job performance is ultimately judged not by the approval of pundits grading his remarks for their subtlety and deftness but by lives saved and lost and criminals arrested or left on the streets.
I hazard to say that Ray Kelly cares as much about black lives as any of his critics, and I know he has certainly done much more to save them.
It is a matter of hard data that there is more crime in New York in minority neighborhoods. Are New York police to ignore that because Tavis Smiley doesn’t want to hear it? And who would suffer most if the police decided never to stop anyone on the basis of reasonable suspicion — the legal standard for the stops in question — ever again in these areas? Presumably not many MSNBC executives live in Bed-Stuy or East New York.
The New York police department, quite logically, focuses its efforts where the crime is, and the results have been stunning. There has been a drop in crime around the country since the early 1990s, and from a variety of causes. But as Heather Mac Donald of the City Journal writes, “New York’s crime drop has been twice as deep and has lasted twice as long as the national average since the early 1990s.” Kelly himself wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week that murders are down almost 30 percent from last year.
Mac Donald points out the fallacy of alleging racial bias in the mere fact that minorities are subject to stops disproportionate to their percentage of the population. They are more than half of all stops although they are about a quarter of the city’s population. But, according to Mac Donald, “blacks are 66 percent of all violent-crime suspects.”
Critics of stop-and-frisk have undertaken a class action suit against it. The roughly 20 instances of stop-and-frisk in the lawsuit don’t exactly offer compelling stories of police abuse or racism, as the city pointed out in one of its own legal filings. Rather, they present a kaleidoscope of different circumstances in which police appeared to act reasonably, all things considered.
For example: Deon Dennis got stopped because an officer thought he was drinking in public. He denies it. He got arrested on an outstanding warrant anyway.
Clive Lino got stopped because he fit the description and was wearing the same kind of jacket as a robbery suspect.
Dominique Sindayiganza got stopped because a woman said he was harassing her at a Petco.
Even if the cops got it wrong in each of these instances, they were hardly acting as a heedless rogue force.
There have been more than 4 million stops since 2004. That works out roughly to 40,000 stops a month, in a city with about 20,000 officers on patrol duty. About 6 percent of the stops result in an arrest and 6 percent in a summons. Critics say that’s not enough to justify them but it’s not clear what number would ever satisfy them.
The true test case of New York City’s racist police policy would be if crime in Brownsville, Brooklyn plunged to the same levels of crime as the Upper East Side of Manhattan, yet the cops insisted on pouring resources into Brownsville for no good reason. Unfortunately, this will be a hypothetical for a long time.
No one seems to care particularly about policing practices in cities beset by endemic violence. The civil rights establishment and cable ranters never get exercised about them. Should your police force drive the number of murders down to a 50-year low to the disproportionate benefit of young black men, though, that’s different. Then there’s hell to pay.
Who knows how many, but it is inarguable that there are kids like Trayvon Martin who are alive today because of New York’s policing. It shouldn’t be hard for anyone who rejoices in that to say, before anything else, two simple words: Thank you.
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