Over the past decade, Long Island’s blacks, Hispanics and other minorities were far more likely than whites to be arrested and wind up behind bars for crimes that experts say are the suburban equivalent of “stop and frisk” charges, Newsday reports. Nonwhites on Long Island were arrested at nearly five times the rate for whites, found an analysis of police and court records from 2005 to 2016. There was a similar racial pattern among those who were jailed. Newsday reviewed 100,000 Long Island cases involving charges resulting from “stop and frisk”-like tactics, such as resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration, criminal trespass and a host of drug-related offenses. Police say these types of charges primarily result from traffic stops. Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said, “A lot of our police interactions are traffic stops because people are driving in Suffolk County, as opposed to the city where fewer people are driving.” Police say these arrests are based on legally permissible causes or “reasonable suspicion” by officers. Police can question and possibly frisk suspects if they believe a crime has been committed.
“We go to great pains to ensure that our members are not engaged in any forms of biased policing,” says former acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. “A small percentage of the population are responsible for the majority of the crime. We look to target those individuals that, based on their histories, are responsible for that crime in those hot spots.” Critics say many pull-over arrests are prompted by minor traffic infractions, such as a faulty brake light, that can quickly turn into more serious charges affecting nonwhites in unfair proportions. While white drivers may get a warning or a traffic ticket, they say, nonwhites are more likely to face serious felony charges.