Lew Leone is the vice president and general manager of WNYW-FOX 5. He is taking to the airwaves with his thoughts on current affairs. It's called "Lew's View." The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.
The bullets are flying in Chicago. In 2012 the Windy City suffered over 500 murders. That's well more than New York City, where the murder rate is at an all-time low. Why is New York safer while Chicago is slowly turning into a war zone? There is strong evidence that the NYPD's practice of stop and frisk is a major component of New York's success. I have a hard time understanding why this program is so controversial.
In high-crime areas the police stop, question and frisk suspicious groups or individuals. This helps make the neighborhood safer because the bad guys are said to leave the guns at home, there is less crime committed and lives are saved. I know this seems like a simplistic view but the facts support the effectiveness of stop and frisk.
This week an opinion piece by New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It should be required reading for every New Yorker. Commissioner Kelly credits the stop and frisk program with saving over 7,000 lives since 2002. He calls charges of racial profiling disingenuous and incendiary because "accusations of racial profiling ignore the fact that violent crime overwhelmingly occurs in minority neighborhoods."
There are many who disagree and say innocent people are often randomly targeted. I am sensitive to that. The police commissioner is, too.
Kelly says that he understands that someone who has done nothing wrong will be angry if he or she is stopped. But with more oversight and training civilian complaints last year dropped to the lowest level in five years, and Kelly promises even more improvement.
With the stop and frisk program under attack New Yorkers should be very concerned if the practice is significantly curtailed or neutralized to the point of being ineffective. If we handcuff the NYPD more people will die, the city will not be as safe, the economy will suffer and certainly fewer tourists will visit if we produce Chicago-like headlines.
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