New York Times reporters Michael Grynbaum and Marjorie Connelly made Tuesday's front page with a peculiar Times poll posing a racially loaded question about police fairness that the paper has not asked for nine years, "Majority in City See Police Dept. As Favoring Whites, Poll Finds ."
The poll gave the paper the chance to hurl more spit-balls at Republican former mayor Rudy Giuliani, reviled by the Times for his (successful) tough-on-crime stand. The poll was clearly keyed to the paper's ongoing attack on the New York Police Department's "stop and frisk" procedures, which are opposed by the ACLU and local left-wing groups. After months of stories in the Times, perhaps it's no surprise that most New Yorkers see racial favoritism on the part of the NYPD.
A significant majority of New Yorkers say the Police Department favors whites over blacks, according to a new poll by The New York Times.
That view, as widespread now as it was in 2001 during the administration of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, is particularly prevalent among black New Yorkers, 80 percent of whom say the police favor one race over the other. A plurality of white residents -- 48 percent -- agree.
Concern about police favoritism comes at a time of intensified scrutiny of the department’s extensive practice of stopping, questioning and, in many instances, frisking people on the city’s streets. Last year, the police made nearly 700,000 stops; about 85 percent of the stops involved blacks or Hispanics.
The poll found that a majority of black residents said the stop-and-frisk tactic had led to the harassment of innocent people, but most white residents viewed the practice as an acceptable way to improve urban safety.
Among all New Yorkers, 48 percent said the tactic was “acceptable to make New York City safer,” while almost as many -- 45 percent -- deemed the tactic “excessive.” Most of those surveyed rejected Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s chief rationale for the practice, saying they did not think that stopping and frisking suspicious people had lowered the crime rate or reduced the use of illegal guns.
The stop-and-frisk practice has come under harsh criticism from civil liberties groups and some lower court judges. The issue has become a subject of debate among elected officials and has apparently captured the attention of the public: more than three-quarters of New Yorkers interviewed for the poll said they had heard a lot or some about it.
Partly because the Times hasn't stopped hammering on the issue.
Opinions about the stop-and-frisk practice are divided by race. Fifty-five percent of whites described the use of the tactic as acceptable; 56 percent of blacks called it excessive. Among Hispanics, 48 percent said it was acceptable, and 44 percent said it was excessive. Republicans, independents and Queens residents generally support the practice; Democrats and Manhattanites generally deem it excessive.
Over all, 64 percent of New Yorkers said the police favored one race over the other, a steep rise from the early years of the Bloomberg administration, when less than half of residents agreed with that sentiment. The last Times poll in which the perception of police favoritism was as widespread was taken in 2001, the final year of Mayor Giuliani’s tenure, when race relations were noticeably more tense. (The question has not been asked in a Times poll since 2003.)