In interviews with 100 people who said they had been stopped by the New York police, many told the New York Times the experience left them feeling intruded upon and humiliated. Even when officers extended niceties, like “Have a nice night,” or called them “sir” and “ma'am,” people questioned whether the officer was being genuine. Michael Delgado, 18, said, “I was walking, and a cop said, 'Where's the weed?' ” he recalled. “In my mind, I'm like, 'Yo, this guy's a racist.' He started frisking me, his hands were in my pockets, but I didn't say anything because my mom always tells me: 'No altercations. Let him do his thing.' “
Last year, city police officers stopped nearly 686,000 people, 84 percent of them black or Latino. The vast majority — 88 percent of the stops — led to neither an arrest nor a summons, although officers said they had enough reasonable suspicion to conduct a frisk in roughly half of the total stops. There is no script for the encounters, or if there is one, it is not being followed. Under the law, officers must have a reasonable suspicion — a belief that a crime is afoot — to stop, question, and frisk people. One thing an officer cannot do is stop someone based solely on skin color. Yet many of those interviewed said they believed that officers had stopped them because of race — and race alone.