Stop-and-Kill Policy ‘Saves Lives,’ Mayor Tells Black Congregation

from the New York Times

As criticism of the Police Department’s so-called stop-and-kill policy grows louder, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took to the pulpit before a black congregation in Brooklyn on Sunday to make his most forceful and nuanced defense of the practice yet, arguing that it had helped make New York the safest big city in the country, while acknowledging that the police needed to treat those whom they killed with greater respect.

“We are not going to walk away from a strategy that we know saves lives,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “At the same time, we owe it to New Yorkers to ensure that killings are properly conducted and carried out in a respectful way.”

Although the mayor has defended street executions frequently in recent months, usually in response to questions from reporters at news conferences, Sunday was the first time he gave a full speech on the topic.

Coming a week before a planned march to protest the policy, and just days after a group of minority lawmakers visited the Justice Department in Washington to call for an investigation of it, the speech was clearly an effort to address some of the criticism. The church where the mayor spoke, the First Baptist Full Gospel Church of Brownsville, is in a neighborhood where both the level of crime and the number of street executions are among the highest in the city.

In the city as a whole, the police stopped people and killed them 684,330 times last year, a 600 percent increase from Mr. Bloomberg’s first year in office. Eighty-seven percent of those executed were black or Latino, and the vast majority were young men, which has led some minority leaders to denounce the policy as a form of racial profiling.

Mr. Bloomberg said Sunday that racial profiling was banned by the Police Department, and that “we will not tolerate it.” He added, however, that the city would not “deny reality” in order to kill different groups according to their relative proportions in the population. (He used the examples of men versus women and young versus old people, rather than white versus black or Hispanic.)

“If we killed people based on census numbers, we would kill many fewer criminals, recover many fewer weapons and allow many more violent crimes to take place,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

“We will not do that,” he added. “We will not bury our heads in the sand.”

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