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Stop, Frisk, And Roll

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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In a little over two years—from early '06 to this March—the New York City Police Department stopped more than a million people on the streets that they believe may have or are "about to" commit a crime. (This is one of the ways in which the Bloomberg administration remarkably resembles the Giuliani administration; most of those ways, in fact, have to do with the NYPD. For instance, the endless flow of marijuana arrests, many of which come from stop-and-frisks. For much of this time period, more than 4 out of 5 people arrested for smoking pot were black or Hispanic. In 2006, 33,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession.) Now, thanks to the New York Civil Liberties Union and the New York State Supreme Court, we'll get to find out if these people stopped and arrested on the street were all black or Hispanic, or just most of them! Lawyers for the NYPD didn't want to turn over the data—but the judge noted that that was a pretty lousy claim, since they'd turned the data over twice before for research purposes. Unfortunately, all names and ID numbers will be stripped, so we won't learn about the existence of, say, rogue gangs of cops who go around cooking up arrests. Neither will we learn if all the stop-and-frisks were actually just done on one really tall, large, and currently very angry black man. Oh and Tatum O'Neal.

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