‘Stop and frisk?’ Not in our city

by The Rev. Amos Brown, President, San Francisco NAACP
SF Chronicle Letters to the Editor 7-28-2012

In the wake of the Aurora tragedy, Mayor Ed Lee has doubled down on his idea of replicating New York City’s ineffective racial profiling program known as “stop and frisk.” The San Francisco NAACP stands with a vocal majority of the city in opposition to this idea.

The numbers show that stop and frisk is irredeemably biased. Year after year, more than 85 percent of New Yorkers stopped by police are black or Latino. Yet 9 out of 10 walk away with no charge, just a bitter feeling that they have been profiled by the color of their skin. San Francisco needs to build greater bonds between police and the community they serve, not greater distrust.

Police Chief Greg Suhr has expressed strong concerns about stopping people for any reason besides reasonable suspicion. We agree that racial profiling is always bad policing. When police focus on race or ethnicity, they inevitably ignore the more important behavioral cues that can help locate a suspect.

This misdirection results in a waste of valuable resources and police time. Mayor Lee has said he is trying to “get to the guns,” but he should be reminded that last year NYPD officers turned up just one gun for every 3,000 street stops.

Stop-and-frisk doesn’t work in New York City, and it has no place in San Francisco.