New York City police officers stopped 508,540 individuals on the streets last year – an average of 1,393 per day – often searching them for illegal weapons, reports the New York Times. The number was up from 97,296 in 2002. More than half of those stopped last year were black. The average number of people arrested per quarter as a result of such stops almost doubled to 5,317 last year, from 2,819 in 2002, and summonses nearly quintupled, to a quarterly average of 7,292 last year from 1,461 in 2002.
The issue of “stop and frisks” became an emotional flashpoint after the shooting of Amadou Diallo, whose death in a barrage of 41 police bullets led to weeks of protests and scores of arrests outside police headqauarters. Many protesters contended there was a pattern of racial profiling in stop-and-frisks. While 55.2 percent of the stops last year involved blacks, 68.5 percent of crimes involved suspects described as black by their victims or by witnesses, in the case of homicides. Hispanics made up 30.5 percent of those stopped and 24.5 percent of suspected offenders. For whites the numbers were 11.1 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively.