Racial profiling - the suspicion that a person of a particular race is more likely to be a potential criminal threat - is the bete noir of all the race hustlers. They spit out the words "racial profiling" as if it were itself the most vile of criminal acts. They harp on it to inflame the passions of blacks. And indeed, Obama spent a good part of his Zimmerman speech tugging at the heartstrings on this issue.
But blacks are exponentially more likely to commit crime, and particularly violent crime and robbery, than any other racial group in the U.S. When it comes to murder, blacks are ten times more likely to commit such an act than whites or hispanics combined. That is cold, hard reality.
The NYPD has instituted an aggressive stop and frisk policy - one that they carry out primarily in the high crime, majority black areas of the city. Call it what you will, it really is racial profiling writ large. It also makes common sense. By far the most important aspect of the program - it has worked phenomenally, saving thousand of lives, mostly black.
The NYPD program is under attack in both federal courts and the court of public opinion. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly took to the pages of the WSJ to address the latter:
Since 2002, the New York Police Department has taken tens of thousands of weapons off the street through proactive policing strategies. The effect this has had on the murder rate is staggering. In the 11 years before Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office, there were 13,212 murders in New York City. During the 11 years of his administration, there have been 5,849. That's 7,383 lives saved—and if history is a guide, they are largely the lives of young men of color.
So far this year, murders are down 29% from the 50-year low achieved in 2012, and we've seen the fewest shootings in two decades.
To critics, none of this seems to much matter. Sidestepping the fact that these policies work, they continue to allege that massive numbers of minorities are stopped and questioned by police for no reason other than their race.
Never mind that in each of the city's 76 police precincts, the race of those stopped highly correlates to descriptions provided by victims or witnesses to crimes. Or that in a city of 8.5 million people, protected by 19,600 officers on patrol (out of a total uniformed staff of 35,000), the average number of stops we conduct is less than one per officer per week.
Racial profiling is a disingenuous charge at best and an incendiary one at worst, particularly in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. The effect is to obscure the rock-solid legal and constitutional foundation underpinning the police department's tactics and the painstaking analysis that determines how we employ them.
In 2003, when the NYPD recognized that 96% of the individuals who were shot and 90% of those murdered were black and Hispanic, we concentrated our officers in those minority neighborhoods that had experienced spikes in crime. This program is called Operation Impact.
From the beginning, we've combined this strategy with a proactive policy of engagement. We stop and question individuals about whom we have reasonable suspicion. This is a widely utilized and lawful police tactic, . . .
As a city, we have to face the reality that New York's minority communities experience a disproportionate share of violent crime. To ignore that fact, as our critics would have us do, would be a form of discrimination in itself.