“The New York Police Department is fully committed to policing within the boundaries of the law,” said Heidi Grossman, an attorney for the city. “Crime is not distributed evenly across the city.”
The city lawyers said the expert testimony was flawed and that evidence would show that there is a correlation between the description of suspects and those stopped.
“Police are given an awesome responsibility, one of which is to bring crime down and keep people safe,” Grossman said.
Street stops have risen dramatically since the 1990s while overall crime dropped in a city that once had the highest murder rate in the nation. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly say the stops are a deterrent that led to lower crime.
There were 419 murders in 2012, the lowest since similar record-keeping began in the 1960s, down from more than 2,000 in the 1990s.
More than 531,000 people were stopped last year, more than five times the number when Bloomberg took office a decade ago. Fifty-one percent of those stopped were black, 32 percent Hispanic and 11 percent white. According to census figures, there are 8.2 million people in the city: 26 percent are black, 28 percent are Hispanic and 44 percent are white.
About half the people who are stopped are subject only to questioning. Others have their bag or backpack searched. And sometimes police conduct a full pat-down. Only 10 percent of all stops result in arrest, and a weapon is recovered a small fraction of the time.
Recent polls show a stark divide over how blacks and whites view the tactic, while among Hispanics, disapproval of the practice has grown.