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Mayor, Sanders disagree about stop-and-frisk

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly discusses the shooting of a 3-year-old Brooklyn boy after the swearing-in ceremony for new police cadets at Queens College. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
TimesLedger Newspapers

Critics and supporters of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program are looking at a recent wave of gun violence, including a deadly assault in southeast Queens with an AK-47, and coming up with differing interpretations.

In the early morning hours of July 7, three men were gunned down near Springfield Gardens High School in a barrage of more than 50 shots fired from an assault rifle, police said. The following day, a 3-year-old boy was shot in his leg in Brooklyn, bringing the number of the city’s gunshot victims that week to 77.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently pointed to these incidents to justify stop-and-frisk, but City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) said they serve as an example of a failed policy.

Sanders levied his criticism in response to remarks Kelly made July 10, two days after young Isaiah Gonzalez was shot in Brooklyn.

Kelly criticized community leaders who he said are too willing to speak out against stop-and-frisk, “but are really, I think, shockingly silent when it comes to the level of violence right in their own communities.”

Sanders had actually held a press conference the day before in Springfield Gardens, decrying the violence and advocating for other policies — such as stricter gun laws and gun buy-backs — as effective alternatives to stop-and-frisk.

“I’m puzzled by the commissioner’s bizarre statements today and cannot help but wonder if he is paying attention to what people are actually saying about stop-and-frisk,” Sanders said. “Even as the commissioner was making this unfortunate, one-size-fits-all statement, I was in Springfield Gardens at the site of a tragic shooting over the weekend, calling for greater community involvement and cooperation in policing and standing shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors to decry the violence on our streets.”

Sanders said a gun buy-back he hosted in 2009 took about 900 guns off the streets in a matter of hours, more than the approximately 770 firearms stop-and-frisk netted last year citywide.

“Commissioner Kelly seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth — asking why there is no outrage over existing gun violence and then championing a policy that has failed to prevent it,” he said. “Put simply, if stop-and-frisk was working, gun violence would be going down, not up. Our communities would be safer, not more dangerous. And people would feel more willing to engage their local precincts in community action against violent criminals, not afraid for their own civil liberties when approached by police.”

Speaking at the Greater Allen AME Church Sunday, Bloomberg said stop-and-frisk was part of a larger approach to reducing crime, one that includes advocating for stricter gun laws and focusing on youth development in lieu of incarceration.

“Now, it’s fair to say that the city has taken a more comprehensive approach to cutting crime and taking guns off the street than any other city. But the fact remains, as I said before, there still are 3-year-olds getting shot,” he said. “There still are AK-47s on the street. Just a few miles down the road from this church, an AK-47 was used to kill three people last week — in a hail of 63 bullets.”

“And so if we want to save more lives, we have to do more,” the mayor continued. “And that’s why, in addition to everything else we are doing, police officers stop and question those who are suspected of criminal activity — and frisk those who are suspected of carrying a weapon.”

About 86 percent of those stopped last year were either black or Latino, and Bloomberg said effective policing should not equate to racial profiling, adding Kelly had re-issued an order banning it.

Sanders, though, said a recent meeting with a local precinct commander left him with the impression that the NYPD was continuing to go “full steam ahead” with stop-and-frisk.

“Much of this is being done with a wink and a nod,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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Paul from Patchogue says:
James Sanders - with respect to "stop and frisk" you speak of people being afraid of their civil liberties when approached by police. Yet you call for "stricter gun laws". The Second Amendment says ""...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The US Supreme Court has affirmed this as the protection of an idividual's right Yet you wish to infringe on this right with "stricter gun laws". As it is now, the right to defend yourself as protected by the Second Amendment is already being infirnged upon by the State of New York and even more so by the City of New York. It sounds to me like you're talking out of both sides of your face Mr. Sanders. Which is it? Are you for Constitutional Rights or not?

Iam all for reducing crime but not if it involves you or any other stepping on my rights. Find another way.

In closing I leave you with this -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1u0Byq5Qis
July 19, 2012, 11:01 am
ajswillis from Harlem says:
Stop & Frisk is bad policy badly applied. It increases distrust, fear of authority and violence. I love our Mayor, I detest this racist policy, I would hate it to be his legacy.
July 19, 2012, 6:11 pm
KC from Maspeth says:
How is the policy Racist? If young men have the odasity to carry guns on the street (without fear of being stopped) why would a plan to reduce this violence be prejudice?

With this new "lets not violate their rights" belief

The only people that win are the "Bad Guys" on the street. The politicians still sleep in the comfort of their homes, the cops actually do less work by "not stopping" people (Drink their coffee and laugh) and the law-abiding citizen will easily get put in jeopardy....All to get a few votes because thats the "flavor" of today's political arena
July 20, 2012, 8:43 am
KC from Maspeth says:
I love how Sanders compares his (city funded) program of buying back guns netted 900 guns versus the P.D's net of 770. The P.D has probably recovered guns off the street while the church program has taken "old, beat up antique pistols and dummy civil war relics toppled with bb guns and toy water guns turned in for a $200 tax payer absorbed fee (For the most art)
what a convenient policy heh??
July 20, 2012, 8:53 am

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