"Much has been made of last year's increase in pedestrian stops and their disproportionate impact on minorities. However, 250 police officers were added to the force last year - the largest contingent to leave the police academy in years. Many of these new officers were posted to foot patrols in high-crime neighborhoods, many of which are predominantly African American. It is therefore hardly surprising that a majority of the citizens stopped by police were black.
Our research found that after three months, the areas with foot-patrol officers did see an increase in pedestrian stops, but they also saw a 22 percent reduction in violent crime. These results are not microscopic: They represent dozens fewer victims of homicide, robbery, and aggravated assault."
It seems to me there are two separate issues at play here: Police staffing and police tactics. And what Ratcliffe is offering here isn't really a defense of stop-and-frisk, but a defense of putting lots of officers on foot patrol in high crime areas. The second option I can get behind! It's not dissimilar from Gen. Petraeus' counterinsurgency tactics in Iraq: Putting officers on the ground (as opposed to sealed off in a squad care, talking to nobody except victims and perps at crime scenes) helps them build relationships with the community and makes them more likely to notice when something's askance. Sure it leads to more arrests -- it would, simply by virtue of having more cops around -- but it does so in the context of community.
Stop-and-frisk, on the other hand, can alienate a community by dragooning lots of innocent people: Remember, only 8 percent of stop-and-frisk encounters end in an arrest. And remember: Ratcliffe doesn't link the drop in crime to these tactics, but to improved police staffing in high-crime neighborhoods. We're supposed to bless stop-and-frisk by association, apparently.
In any case, Ratcliffe gives the game away when he makes this statement: "Of course, if the perceived level of risk is to be raised, citizens in high-crime neighborhoods are likely to be increasingly inconvenienced and to experience a ramped-up police presence. This does not necessarily mean their civil rights are being violated; nobody is above being stopped by the police."
Actually, I'll disagree with that. Lots and lots of people are above being stopped by the police -- not because they're uppity, but because they're citizens. Police don't have the right to stop and detain people without probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed; the fact that 92 percent of people walk away from these encounters without any kind of criminal charge suggests, to me at least, that the police are exceeding their rights by a considerable margin.