New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly blasted a federal judge's finding that racial discrimination has motivated the department's controversial stop-and-frisk practice.
Speaking on a Sunday news show Kelly countered that in fact minority communities will be 'the losers' if the judge's ruling is not overturned. He also questioned the judge's call to supply police officers with tiny video cameras to record their public interactions.
Speaking on three different Sunday news programs Kelly took issue with the judge’s reasoning and defended the New York Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk as legal and life-saving.
'The losers in this, if this case is allowed to stand, are people who live in minority communities,' he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
According to the Boston Globe Kelly noted that 97 percent of shooting victims are black or Hispanic, claiming that, given that fact, it is entirely reasonable to believe that similar demographics apply if a police stop deters a killing.
Kelly added that there have been over 7,300 fewer killings in the 11 full years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure so far than in the 11 years before.
'Things are going right here in New York. And this decision certainly has the potential of overturning it,' Kelly said on ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos. 'We have record-low numbers of murders in New York City, record-low numbers of shootings. We’re doing something right to save lives,' he said.
'We need some balance here,' he added. 'The reality is that violence is happening disproportionately in minority communities. And that, unfortunately, is in big cities throughout America.'
For Kelly the choice is stark. If stop-and-frisk is abandoned there is 'no question about it —violent crime will go up,' he said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
The controversial figures that prompted the judge's ruling include the fact that over the past decade police have stopped, questioned and sometimes patted down about 5 million people. 87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic, groups that make up 54 percent of the city population.
About 10 percent of the stops spur an arrest or summons. Police admit they find weapons only a fraction of the time.
District Judge Shira Scheindlin reportedly declared on Monday that at least 200,000 stops were made without reasonable suspicion and that the NYPD’s practice is intentionally racially biased. The city plans to appeal the ruling.
But Kelly said the racial and ethnic makeup of those stopped should be compared to and reliably mirror that of crime suspects, not the population at large. The judge however called that approach wrong 'because the stopped population is overwhelmingly innocent — not criminal.'
Kelly’s remarks Sunday brought a rebuke from NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, who feels that his department is more often alienating and victimizing the minority communities they claim to serve.
'Just because there are more murders in our community doesn’t mean that you can treat all of us like we are guilty. He’s just way off base,' Jealous said on Meet the Press.
The mother of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot dead by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, said her son was a victim of such profiling.
'You can’t give people the authority, whether civilian or police officers, the right to just stop somebody because of the color of their skin,' Sybrina Fulton said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Meanwhile Kelly suggested potential drawbacks to having video record of police interactions with the public. A response to domestic arguments or when someone wants to provide confidential information could be compromised, Kelly suggested.
Further headaches await the commissioner. In addition to Scheindlin’s ruling, city lawmakers are preparing a final vote on Thursday on creating an inspector general for the NYPD and widening the legal path for pursuing claims of police bias.