The Corner

Law & the Courts

About Stop-and-Frisk

Mike Bloomberg speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz., February 1, 2020. (Gage Skidmore)

In a previous post, I highlighted a poll showing disparate reactions among racial groups to Mike Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy in New York City. The Data for Progress poll surveyed voters in Texas, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina, and California, and found that white voters were significantly more likely than black voters to take an unfavorable view of Bloomberg after being reminded of the stop-and-frisk policies he enacted as mayor of New York City.

The post was intended to highlight a broader political phenomenon — “vicarious aggrievement,” I called it — of white liberals taking offense on behalf of a minority group which is less offended, collectively, than the white liberals aggrieved on their behalf. The Data for Progress poll mirrored other data we have suggesting that white liberals, as a group, are more attuned and receptive to the mores of political correctness than are their non-white counterparts.

In any case, the post was not a defense of stop-and-frisk as such. Kyle Smith argues here that the policy was wrong-headed and heightened tensions between racial minorities and law enforcement. I am inclined to agree with his conclusion. Even as legal censure and policy changes have stunted the use of the tactic — the number of people stopped and frisked fell from 686,000 to 12,000 between 2011 and 2016 — crime has continued to fall in New York City. The constitutionality of the practice is dubious.

The merits of the policy notwithstanding, the Data for Progress poll is demonstrative of the white liberal’s tendency to champion the causes of people whom he purports to understand, even as the data suggest otherwise.

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