Rare White People Stopped by NYPD More Likely to Carry Drugs

By McCarton Ackerman 05/23/13

New stats underline the racial bias of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy.

Not a white people problem Photo via

Despite NYPD officers primarily targeting minorities with their controversial stop-and-frisk policy, new numbers show that white people are more likely to be in possession of drugs or weapons. According to 2012 statistics released by the Public Advocate’s office, black people were one-third less likely to carry a contraband drug, and one-half as likely to have a gun, compared to white people detained for a search. The NYPD uncovered contraband in one out every 43 stops of white New Yorkers, compared to one out of 57 for Latinos and one out of 61 stops for African-Americans. But black and Latino New Yorkers constitute 84% of all stops, despite comprising just 54% of the city population, and turning up innocent nearly 89% of the time. As part of the ongoing Floyd v. City of New York case, in which four plaintiffs claim they were racially profiled by the NYPD, several officers have recently testified that the department targets minorities based on arbitrary assumptions of "reasonable suspicion." Officer Pedro Serrano, an 8-year veteran of the New York Police Department, testified that Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormick told him in a meeting to focus his duties on "male blacks 14 to 20, 21." Judge Shira A. Scheindlin will provide a ruling in a few months, but she has already expressed skepticism over the high error rate of the stop-and-frisk policy. “You reasonably suspect something and you’re wrong 90% of the time,” said Scheindlin to a lawyer representing the city. "So the point is: the suspicion turns out to be wrong in most cases."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.