Last year, New York City police made a record 680,000 stops, more than 80 percent of those people black or Latino. Often overlooked, says the New York Times, is how frequently police officers use some level of physical force in these encounters. People who have been stopped say that if they show the slightest bit of resistance, even verbally, they can find themselves slammed against walls, forced to the ground and, on rarer occasions, with officers' guns pointed at their heads.
The police used some level of physical force in more than one in five stops across the city last year, the Times says. In the West Bronx, the rate was more than double that. Yet the high level of force seldom translated into arrests, raising questions among black and Latino leaders about whether officers were using enough discretion before making the stops in the first place, much less before resorting to force. The four precincts with the highest use of force include or have included what the police call “impact zones,” violent pockets that the police routinely flood with officers, often in their first assignment out of the academy, in an effort to suppress crime. That combination of putting inexperienced officers in the worst neighborhoods may be one reason that the use of force is so high, residents said. They said the encounters create lasting feelings of resentment and a distrust of officers.