New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Sunday asserted that people would die if the city’s controversial policy of stopping and frisking suspects without a warrant was halted.
In a July New York Times column, Charles Blow had connected the stop-and-frisk policy to neighborhood watch programs like the one that empowered George Zimmerman to shoot and kill Trayvon Martin because both were based on “universal suspicion without individual evidence.”
“The stark reality is that violence is happening disproportionately in minority communities,” Kelly told NBC host David Gregory on Sunday. “We have record-low numbers of murders in New York City, record-low numbers of shootings. We’re doing something right to save lives. Last year, as I said, we had a record low in numbers of murders. This year, we’re running 30 percent below that.”
“I understand the sensitivity of it,” the commissioner added. “It — very important in the African-American community. I would also submit, though, that the Trayvon Martin case is a little bit different. These are two civilians. There clearly was a tragedy, but it didn’t involve sworn police officers.”
“If a program like stop-and-frisk is abandoned, will people die?” Gregory wondered.
“No question about it, violent crime will go up,” Kelly agreed.
NAACP President Ben Jealous, however, said it should “send chills down the spine of everyone in this country” that a man who wants to be secretary of the Department of Homeland Security just said that “his officers have to violate the U.S. Constitution to make us safer.”
“The problem is that the fall in homicides happened prior to 2002, and the increase in stop-and-frisks happened after 2002,” Jealous pointed out. “So, there’s no relationship between these two. We’re now at a point where you have more stop-and-frisks of young black men in New York City than there are young men in New York City.”
Watch this video from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast Aug. 18, 2013.