New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's stop-and-frisk policy, which allows NYPD police to stop anyone they suspect of intending to commit a crime, felony, or misdemeanor, has come under criticism from a variety of avenues due to the racial profiling it is said to encourage. Six weeks ago, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against the NYPD, and Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez added a conditional brief that suggested a federal monitor for the NYPD if the policy is found to be unconstitutional. Bloomberg and Police Chief Ray Kelly, however, have stood behind their actions, and most recently Bloomberg said today that "I think we stop minorities too little."
The New York City Council recently passed two bills that would provide "checks" on the mayor's policy, one creating an inspector general position within the NYPD, another allowing New Yorkers to sue the NYPD in state court for discriminatory targeting. Mayor Bloomberg, however, has voiced his intentions to veto both bills. "The racial profiling bill is just so unworkable," he said today. "Nobody racially profiles." In a remark that sounds strange and "unworkable" in itself, he also added that "It's society's job to make sure that no one group is disproportionately represented as potential perpetrators."
The idea that people, including himself, don't racially profile others at all is preposterous and denies the basic mechanisms by which racism works. "Society" actually works in reverse to the way that he wants it to; positive social change and equal access to education and opportunity are what eventually lift a group out of being "disproportionately represented as potential perpetrators," but these developments, and their accompanying change in attitudes, take time and don't happen all at once.
By refusing to acknowledge the racism that occurs at all level of command – from sending more officers with orders to stop and frisk to Black and Hispanic areas of New York to allowing those officers to take out racist attitudes on individuals that are not otherwise suspicious. (The NYCLU found that the total number of stops of young black men, counted at nearly 686,000 in 2011 alone, exceeded the entire city population of black men, even though whites are more likely to be found with a weapon through the policy). Mayor Bloomberg has never had to live under the suspicion that these men do and the distrust of authority that it inculcates. Other cities have held their stop-and-frisk-esque programs up to institutional review and scrutiny; he should be open to this option.