Editorial: A Win for the Bad Guys

A federal judge has decided that the Police Department’s crime-busting stop-and-frisk policies are unconstitutional. It’s hard to top Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reaction. Justifiably furious, Mr. Bloomberg noted the judge clearly knows nothing about police work.

So true, but why let ignorance stand in the way of ideology?

The city will appeal this appallingly shortsighted, agenda-driven decision, so it’s possible that reason will prevail. For now, though, Judge Shira Scheindlin will move ahead with the appointment of a court-appointed monitor who will be looking over the shoulders of patrol cops as they go about the dangerous business of ridding the streets of guns and those who carry them.

Mr. Bloomberg’s fury was matched by that of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who made it clear how he felt about the judge’s assertion that the department engaged in racial profiling. Under Mr. Kelly’s tenure, the NYPD has become one of the more-diverse big-city police departments in the nation. To suggest, as the judge did, that the NYPD is a white institution intent on violating the rights of minorities is to insult one of Commissioner Kelly’s greatest legacies.

Let’s put it simply: Stop-and-frisk tactics have saved thousands of lives in high-crime neighborhoods, which tend to be comprised of poor and predominately minority individuals. Critics, including the judge, argue that the tactics are little more than harassment because so few stops lead to an arrest on gun charges.

But that’s precisely the point. The bad guys know that if they carry a weapon and they’re caught in a stop-and-frisk operation, they’re done. So they leave their guns at home. And, what a surprise? The murder rate in New York continues to plummet.

If you want a vision of New York without stop-and-frisk, take a glance at Chicago, where thugs have turned entire neighborhoods into free-fire zones. The bad guys in the Windy City have no reason to keep their weapons at home on a Saturday night. Soon, their counterparts here will feel similarly liberated. And the body count will begin to rise.

The mayor suggested that the judge was predisposed against the NYPD based on previous rulings. That may provide the city with a sound appeal. But Judge Scheindlin is hardly the only New Yorker eager to display anti-cop sentiments. The mayoral campaign has featured regular assaults on the police and Commissioner Kelly over the last few months as Democrats seek to distance themselves from 20 years of adult supervision in City Hall. Comptroller William Thompson had been a voice of reason in the debate over stop-and-frisk, but recently even he gave into temptation to engage in ritual cop bashing, to the delight of ideologues and professional cop haters.

This may well be the end of stop-and-frisk as we know it. It is incumbent on those who would be mayor to provide New York with a substitute policy. How will they deter bad guys without stop-and-frisk?

Rhetoric and pandering won’t cut it anymore. Let’s see a plan.