New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie raised eyebrows recently when he called for a reinstatement of New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy. Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Christie criticized New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for not supporting police officers.
“Stop-and-frisk would be back in about five minutes,” Christie said. “We would empower the police and not undercut them. If police officers step over the line, they deserve to be taken care of and prosecuted, but this guy, this mayor [Bill de Blasio], presumes guilt on the part of the police officer before anything happens.”
He also accused de Blasio and President Barack Obama of encouraging an atmosphere of lawlessness, where Americans thought it was okay to flout certain rules. Christie cited Colorado’s pro-marijuana laws and sanctuary cities as examples of states and municipalities disregarding federal laws.
“Sanctuary cities across the country, where if you are mayor, you don’t want to enforce the immigration law? Eh, don’t bother. Because the president doesn’t like those laws,” he said. “You want to get high in Colorado and Washington, even though marijuana is against the law in this country? Eh, go ahead.”
However, stop-and-frisk policies, which were ruled unconstitutional in 2013, have proven to be ineffective at stopping crime. An in-depth study of stop-and-frisk arrests, conducted by sociology professor David F. Greenberg, found “no evidence that misdemeanor arrests reduced levels of homicide, robbery, or aggravated assaults.”
According to a 2013 report released by the New York Attorney General’s Office, only 1.5 percent of stop-and-frisk arrests resulted in prison sentences.
“My office’s analysis of the city’s stop-and-frisk practices has broad implications for law enforcement, both in New York City and across the state,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement after the report was released. “It’s our hope that this report—the first of its kind—will advance the discussion about how to fight crime without overburdening our institutions or violating equal justice under the law.”
Civil liberty activists said the report showed stop-and-frisk policies were a failure.
“The attorney general’s report has confirmed what young men of color have known for years – that the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk crusade is targeting innocent people and is pathetically ineffective and inefficient in apprehending criminals,” said New York Civil Liberties Union executive director, Donna Lieberman.
Apart from being unconstitutional and ineffective, stop-and-frisk policies were also racist, and showed clear bias in law enforcement. Studies showed police tended to target people of color. According to The Root, 84 percent of the people stopped were Black and Latino, while only 10 percent were white.
Christie’s latest media stunt was an attempt to breathe life into his fading presidential campaign. Once pegged as the inevitable GOP presidential nominee, Christie is now lagging behind Republican frontrunner and media darling, Donald Trump.
However, making comments about getting tough on crime might be a way for Christie to appeal to conservatives, who have always believed that Black crime is out of control. Since the days of Nixon and Reagan, Republicans have used white fears as an excuse to push harsh sentencing laws. Unfortunately, Democratic President Bill Clinton co-opted many of those ideas, resulting in policies that led to the mass incarceration of Black men.