New York police officers made 575,000 pedestrian stops last year. Fifty-five percent involved blacks, who are 23 percent of the city's population. Whites, 35 percent of the population, were involved in 10 percent of the stops. Critics call this racial bias, but Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute, writing in the New York Times, says, “Given the patterns of crime in New York, it is inevitable that stop rates will not mirror the city's ethnic and racial breakdown.”
Stops happen more frequently in minority neighborhoods because that is where most violent crime occurs and where police presence is most intense, says MacDonald. Blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crime in New York in 2009, including 80 percent of shootings and 71 percent of robberies. New York’s ratios of stops to population and to total arrests are very close to those in Los Angeles, where a judge lifted a federal consent decree under which police had operated for eight years. The police stop data in Los Angeles are as racially disproportionate as New York's, yet the judge deemed them consistent with civil rights.