I’m pro-profile and anti-assumption.
In the tradition of people watching, general profiling of appearance can be fairly accurate on average depending on attire and setting. As a microcosm, think of lunch table cliques in high school (goths, jocks, etc). The macro, however, is too multi-dimensional for the naked eye because one can profile based on varsity garment that someone is an athlete but that person may be a cheerleader. What about differentiating between a male nurse and doctor when both are wearing scrubs? More importantly, we certainly can’t presume or assume their criminal behavior by appearance in any of these examples.
I like Mayor Bloomberg even when I don’t agree with him because he has a history of proactively governing with logic, reason and rationale. In the cases of Stop, Question (more like accuse) & Frisk, I think the Mayor and those who share his opinion need more perspective.
In the press conference Bloomberg said, ““As guns continue to flow from other places and other states…” Exactly. If this is a necessary evil, then let’s sharpen the focus and stop those who frequent gun shows. Surely, their unregistered stockpile and routine trips to the city suggest a possible intent to sell. Then let’s see if they’re stopping “too many white people.”
Oh wait, that’s where Federal and State laws work in the favor of straw purchases. How convenient to the reverse racial profiling of where crime is taking place. Well if New York is the poster child for crime reduction, then the police need to apply a dual meaning to their tactic – stop and question themselves before they stop and question others. While they’re at it, they need to frisk themselves so they know the difference between their taser and their gun.
I feel like they’re stopping white people to be fair for the record books. They buy a pizza slice and say “Come here Tony, I gotta frisk you.” Ok, I’m posturing to counter the power of a growing Gestapo. But when Mayor Bloomberg vetoes and appeals something that gives simple oversight to an absurdly disproportionate practice, he further violates the rights of young people of color whose first lesson in Latin is habeas corpus.
As a Black man in his 30’s, who went to college in the South, my friends and I have had countless run-ins with the police in every I-95 state . Since I consider myself savvy to ways of all folks within the power structure of America, my experiences with the law is more like a video game that I’m forced to play because I’m Black. Walking away with my life trumps the unjust harassment so I keep calm and carry on.
It’s just another chapter in the survival guide of how to outwit racism, but the stakes are higher. New York cops can be cool if you know how to talk to them but it is always a tightrope of tone and body language versus the mood that they’re in at the moment. The streets call police “one-time” because it only takes one time to get caught. Well it’s the exact same thing if you’re a law-abiding black or brown person. It only takes one time to have a falsified criminal record that handicaps life chances or have an incident where you’re shot 41 times the night before your wedding in your house. It doesn’t take a song to know the police get away with murder by the numbers and call it a sting (wink). This is the purpose of a monitor Mr. Mayor.
Here’s a few suggestions for the monitor who will oversee whatever police state you live in. I encourage you to help flesh out and add your own.
Board Control -Establish a Stop & Frisk Review Board in every borough comprising of officials from Community Boards that have limited power but can issue fines (or docked pay) on police who may have used excessive force. This prevents lawsuits, generates revenue, and provides a platform for those being stopped and frisked.
Police Athletic League – Extend PAL program that has teenagers and off-duty cops doing community service together. Give incentives (e.g. sports tickets) based on hours served. When they accumulate a set number of hours, issue PAL youth cards like the ones the Police Benevolent Association gives out. Now they have something to show when they get stopped.
Educate – Make a short film with the victims of gun violence and their families to be shown in school. I would even include the convicted perpetrators and their families. This will hit home like early drunk driving campaigns. It develops their critical thinking and helps them understand the fallacies of snitching and other street codes.
Decriminalize -if the person stopped has a small amount of marijuana, and does not have a weapon or a non-traffic warrant, they should not be arrested only issued a fine.
Match the Description – civilians would be able to challenge whether or not they match the description of the perpetrator. This decreases unfair sweeps. Civilian could get a low flat settlement amount. Since most people owe the city/state anyway, the money would just get recycled. Ha!
T. Better Baldwin is a creative mercenary and ethical lobbyist who was born, raised and resides in New York City.