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23 March 2012

The Risk of Stop and Frisk

The New York Times has a nice piece on so-called stop-and-frisk police practices and their racial/ist implications. Here is the sociological punchline:
The Police Department has said that it conducted a record 684,330 stops last year, and that 87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic. About 10 percent of the stops led to arrests or summonses and 1 percent to the recovery of a weapon, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has examined police data. 
The very next paragraph in the story, however, offers the police's reframing of the numbers that is at best speculative and misleading and at worst intentionally deceptive. The reporting demonstrates the challenges that "balanced" journalism presents. In trying to avoid the perception of bias, journalists potentially (and ironically) set an agenda that runs counter to social realities. Here are a couple links to other takes on the ineffectiveness of racial profiling, both intentional and unintended.

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