Responding directly to a defense of New York City's stop-and-frisk program by the NYPD's Ray Kelly on Sunday's Meet the Press, Ben Jelaous, president of the NAACP, said that comments made by the police commissioner, "should send chills down the spine of everyone in this country."
In answering questions about why the city filed an appeal on Friday against a court ruling that found the police program "unconstitutional," Kelly said that though he understands how some members of the community feel "humiliated and violated" by the practice, stop-and-frisk helps keeps murder and other violent crime rates down in the city. We need "balance," Kelly told viewers and made a guarantee that "violence would go up" if the practice was halted.
According to Jealous' interpretations of Kelly's comments, however, what the commissioner means by "balance" is that "his officers have to violate the US Constitution in order to make us safer."
"That's what a federal judge just found," continued Jealous. "In our country, it's the federal judge, not the [police] chief, who gets to decide what the U.S. Constitution says. Now, the problem is that the fall in homicides happened prior to 2002, and the increase in stop and frisk happened after 2002. So there's no relationship between these two. We are now at a point where you have more stop and frisks of young black men in New York City than there are young black men in New York City."
Kelly, who as Jealous himself noted "aspires to be the head of the Department of Homeland Security," has become a national proponent of stop-and-frisk-style policing, a fact that worries opponents of the practice. President Obama has mentioned his name as a possible nominee for the position.
The recent focus on the city's policy stems from a court decision announced at the beginning of the week in which U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the city's support of stop-and-frisk showed “deliberate indifference toward the NYPD's practice of making unconstitutional stops.”
On Friday, the city appealed the court decision, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg siding with Kelly and against community activists and civil rights experts who have blasted the stop-and-frisk policy since its inception.