NASW-NYC Statement on Stop and Frisk  

(Updated and Expanded, May 1, 2013) 


NASW-NYC stands in opposition to the policy of stop and frisk. As the profession that carries within its vision and charge a mandate for social justice, equity, and equality, we support continued organizing, advocacy, and political action to end what is inherently a racist policy.

NASW-NYC represents over 9,000 social workers citywide. Social workers wrestle with the impact of Stop & Frisk on a daily basis and see the consequences on the entire family and community.

Our profession is as diverse as this nation and represents its promise, hope, and future. Social workers interact with society’s marginalized, neglected and oppressed, engaging in a fierce battle to help them reclaim their inherent dignity and to challenge the systems that rob community members of their value, agency, and human rights. It is out of this experience that NASW-NYC and the members of the social work profession equate social work with social justice.

There are seven reasons that social workers should oppose Stop and Frisk:

1.) Stop & Frisk is discriminatory and racist. 90% of persons stopped are Black or Latino, even though 89% of those stopped (nearly 4 million between 2002-2012) are totally innocent. The vast majority of those stopped are also young and of limited means. Even in neighborhoods that are predominantly white, New Yorkers of color face the disproportionate brunt of Stop and Frisk. For example, Black and Latino New Yorkers make up 24% of the population of Park Slope, Brooklyn, but 79% of stops. This is the definition of discriminatory.

2.) Stop and Frisk targets economically challenged communities and communities of color, where distrust of the police and other authority figures is already high. Stop and Frisk has exacerbated this and has seriously damaged the public image of the NYPD and the relationship between the police force and the communities it purports to serve. This corrosion of trust between police and communities actually makes everyone LESS safe.

3.) Stop and Frisk violates the civil rights of those stopped. Those who've been stopped (which includes a significant number of honor students, athletes, collegians, and young professionals) state that they found the experience intrusive, violating, humiliating, and disempowering.

4.) Even if Stop and Frisk were effective in keeping people safer, it would be morally wrong, however, research shows that it is NOT effective. Since 2002, only 11% of stops have resulted in arrests, and the vast majority of these were for possession of small amounts of marijuana and other very minor, non-violent offenses.

5.) Stop and Frisk does NOT "get guns off the streets". Guns are found in less than .2 percent of stops.

6.) The policy is wasteful and fiscally irresponsible. The resources being used for Stop and Frisk, with its poor outcomes, would be much better spent on programs and services to address the multiple challenges faced by higher crime communities, which in turn would REDUCE the crime rate.

7.) NASW-NYC supports equality, dignity, communication, and understanding among all peoples. We endorse the rights of individuals to pursue their goals freely without fear of being harassed and humiliated by those who are supposed to protect them. We believe that all people should be treated equally and fairly, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, social class, age, sexual orientation, disability, or physical appearance. For these reasons, we oppose and call for an end to the policy of Stop and Frisk in New York City.

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