In 2003, New York City police officers confiscated 604 guns through 160,851 stop-and-frisk encounters: a success rate of one gun for every 266 stops. Last year, the police seized 780 guns in 685,724 stop-and-frisks, meaning that officers made 879 stops for each gun found, says the New York Times. Critics of the police street-stop tactics said the falling gun recovery rate was a sign that the department was stopping too many innocent people as it made an increasing number of street stops in minority neighborhoods.
To police officials, the statistics demonstrated their commitment to going after illegal guns, and the drop in gun seizures as a percentage of overall stops indicated the effectiveness of the tactic: criminals, officials believe, are more likely to leave their guns at home, knowing they may be stopped by the police. “We think it is a prescriptive result we may be seeing,” said police spokesman Paul Browne. Yesterday, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued an analysis of last year's record number of street stops, providing data for mayoral candidates eager to distinguish themselves from the tactics of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg era. Comptroller John Liu said street stops should be abolished, prompting Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson to tweet, “A race to the left and a return to high crime.”