Police officers stopped people on New York City's streets more than 200,000 times during the first three months of 2012, a record pace for street stops, reports the New York Times. Data on the 203,500 street stops from January through March — up from 183,326 during the same quarter a year earlier — was sent to the City Council from 1 Police Plaza late on Friday. On Saturday, the department disclosed the information to reporters and credited the controversial topic known as “Stop, Question, Frisk” as one of several policies of engagement whose effectiveness was vindicated by a decline in homicides in New York.
So far this year, 129 people have been murdered in New York through Friday, a number that put the city on track for a new low in annual homicides. The 471 murders logged by the Police Department in 2009 was the lowest annual tally for any previous 12-month period since reliable numbers were kept in the early 1960s. Still, the new street-stop numbers got a fresh round of criticism after a week that saw civil libertarians and prospective mayoral candidates debating the crime-suppression value of such stops and blaming the tactics for tearing at the fabric of city life, particularly in minority neighborhoods, during a period of historically low violence.