New York police commissioner Ray Kelly appeared before the City Council today, and said that he was adopting reforms suggested to him by Council Speaker Christine Quinn that call for greater oversight of the program and more training for officers.
But according to Manhattan BP Scott Stringer, the move was woefully inadequate.
“Today’s public relations gambit before the City Council by the NYPD does not honestly address a policing crisis which is dividing this city,” he said in a statement. “The numbers speak for themselves: new data shows the City is on track to stop some 800,000 New Yorkers this year, the most ever. A reform plan that does nothing to reverse that trend is not real reform.”
It is worth noting that Mr. Kelly’s letter comes just as opposition to stop-and-frisk grows, with a mass march on the matter planned for next month.
Mr. Stringer has been pushing for stop-and-frisk reform since last year, when in an appearance with Newark mayor Cory Booker, he called the practice “a moral and constitutional outrage.”
Mr. Stringer has called instead for a “call-in” approach, one where high-risk offenders are summoned to a meeting with community leaders to learn about what violence does to a community.
This idea stems from the work of John Jay Professor David Kennedy, and Mr. Stringer outlined how it would work in a Nation article last month.
Armed with the knowledge that a small number of criminals commit the majority of violent crimes in any neighborhood, Kennedy devised a system—the “call-in” approach—where gang members, drug dealers and other “bad actors” are summoned to a meeting with law enforcement, clergy, community leaders and social services organizations.
At that meeting, what Kennedy calls “the moral voice of the community”—local parents who have lost children to gun violence, ex-offenders who have gone straight and faith leaders—sets an unmistakable community standard against violence. Individuals are given a choice—either stop committing violent crimes now, or watch as we arrest not just you but every member of your crew. In addition to people who can help off them get their lives back on track, law enforcement is there, promising a greatly elevated risk of serious penalties for committing violent crimes.
It is a multi-pronged, multi-agency approach designed to stop the cycle of violence in a community, to give young people a second chance, to build bridges. It rests, crucially, on demonstrating that law enforcement respects the difference between the violent few and everybody else in a neighborhood.
Today, Mr. Stringer acknowledged that “Commissioner Kelly took a step in the right direction today by acknowledging that there needs to be better oversight and training of stop and frisk procedures within the NYPD,” and noted that he was “encouraged” that Mr. Kelly sounded amenable to the call-in approach.
“We need to explore this strategy, which works with communities – rather than against them – to make neighborhoods safer,” he said.