Heather McDonald, absolutely one of the best writers in the country on criminal justice and public safety issues, has penned another superb article.
“The New York Times’s front page story this week on the New York Police Department and its allegedly racist stop-and-frisk practices follows a well-worn template: give specific racial breakdowns for every aspect of police behavior, but refer to racial crime rates only in the most attenuated of terms. Disclosing crime rates—the proper benchmark against which police behavior must be measured—would demolish a cornerstone of the Times’s worldview: that the New York Police Department, like police departments across America, oppresses the city’s black population with unjustified racial tactics.
“This week’s story, written by Al Baker, began with what the Times thinks is a shocking disparity: “Blacks and Latinos were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped by the police in New York City in 2009, but, once stopped, were no more likely to be arrested.” (The fact that blacks, Hispanics, and whites are arrested at the same rate after a stop undercuts, rather than supports, the thesis of racially biased policing, but more on that later.)…
“Here are the crime data that the Times doesn’t want its readers to know: blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crimes in the first half of 2009 (though they were only 55 percent of all stops and only 23 percent of the city’s population). Blacks committed 80 percent of all shootings in the first half of 2009. Together, blacks and Hispanics committed 98 percent of all shootings. Blacks committed nearly 70 percent of all robberies. Whites, by contrast, committed 5 percent of all violent crimes in the first half of 2009, though they are 35 percent of the city’s population (and were 10 percent of all stops). They committed 1.8 percent of all shootings and less than 5 percent of all robberies. The face of violent crime in New York, in other words, like in every other large American city, is almost exclusively black and brown. Any given violent crime is 13 times more likely to be committed by a black than by a white perpetrator—a fact that would have been useful to include in the Times’s lead, which stated that “Blacks and Latinos were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped.” These crime data are not some artifact that the police devise out of their skewed racial mindset. They are what the victims of those crimes—the vast majority of whom are minority themselves—report to the police.”