Fox News Ignores Reduction Of Violent Crime In Cities Without Stop-And-Frisk

Fox News cherry-picked data to falsely claim that New York City's stop-and-frisk policies reduced crime, when in fact many cities without the policy saw larger declines in violent crime and the drop in violence in New York was part of a trend that preceded widespread use of the controversial policy.

Judge Rules Stop-And-Frisk Tactics In NYC Discriminatory And Unconstitutional

Wash. Post: Federal Judge In New York Ruled Stop-And-Frisk Law “Unconstitutional, Saying It Is A 'Form Of Racial Profiling.'” The Washington Post reported:

A federal judge in New York has ruled New York City's controversial “stop and frisk” law unconstitutional, saying it is a “form of racial profiling.”

The judge noted that the policy, which allows officers to briefly detain a person if they have reasonable suspicion that the person is in the process of committing or is about to commit a crime, goes too far. It also permits pat downs if the officer feels he or she is in danger.

The judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, noted that African Americans and Hispanics are the target of the vast majority of these detentions -- higher than the rate at which they are responsible for crime.

“While a person's race may be important if it fits the description of a particular crime suspect, it is impermissible to subject all members of a racially defined group to heightened police enforcement because some members of that group are criminals,” Scheindlin wrote. “The Equal Protection Clause does not permit race-based suspicion.”

Scheindlin has appointed a third party to review the policy and make necessary changes. [The Washington Post, 8/12/13]

Fox News Cherry-Picks Data To Claim Murder Rate Is Lower In Cities With Stop-And-Frisk

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade: Stop-And-Frisk “Is Working,” Because New York Has Fewer Murders Than Chicago. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed stop-and-frisk policies were “working” because the “stats” reveal New York City had fewer murders than Chicago:

KILMEADE: [I]t is working. Listen to these stats. In Chicago, which is a third of the size of New York, New York's three times the size, there were 100 fewer murders in New York, and Chicago, it's like the Wild West out there in that urban community, urban climate. And I will say this, the stop-and-frisk has not been suspended. But right now they're having a monitor step in and oversee, and this guy has already been named and they're waiting to see what exactly he does, before they actually do anything about it.

On-screen text compared the murder rate in the two cities:

Murder rate comparison between NYC & Chicago

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/14/13]

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly: “In Cities That Use Stop-And-Frisk Like New York, The Murder Rate Is Much Lower.” Fox host Bill O'Reilly claimed the “facts” showed that “in cities that use stop-and-frisk like New York, the murder rate is much lower” and credited the policy entirely for reducing the murder rate in New York City:

O'REILLY: Here are the facts. Chicago doesn't have a stop-and-frisk, alright? Their murder rate per 100,000 is 19. Nineteen, alright? Philadelphia, stop-and-frisk, very, very light. Twenty-one and a half per 100,000. New York City stop-and-frisk: five. So you can see, in cities that use stop-and-frisk like New York, the murder rate is much lower. And here's what you're not taking into account. Everybody knows in these neighborhoods the cops are going to stop-and-frisk. Do you agree with that?


O'REILLY: O.K. So they are inhibited from taking the gun out of the house, they are inhibited from walking around on the streets with the gun. And New York City, when it didn't have this, had one of the highest murder rates in the country, and now it's the lowest. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 8/13/13]

Fox News' Clayton Morris: Stop-And-Frisk Responsible For Lower Rate Of Murder In New York City. Fox & Friends guest co-host Clayton Morris compared New York City's crime rate to Chicago and Philadelphia and claimed that backed up supporters of the policy who say stop-and-frisk is responsible for the decline in rates:

MORRIS: If you look at the numbers here, it's pretty fascinating. From 2003, the crime rate at 7.4, up to in 2012 -- [the] murder rate, down to five. And even in major cities across the United States, if you compare New York City to other major cities across the United States, Chicago at 18.8 percent in murder rate, Philadelphia 21.5 and New York City 5, so they, to your point Gretchen, lay claim to this as being responsible for this. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/13/13]

Multiple Cities Without Stop-And-Frisk Had Higher Reductions In Violent Crime Rates Than New York

New York Civil Liberties Union: "Other Large Cities Experienced Larger Violent Crime Declines Without Relying On Stop And Frisk Abuses." The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) noted that crime data “do not support the claim that New York City is safer because of the practice,” as other cities without the policy “experienced larger violent crime declines” from 2001 to 2010:

No research has ever proven the effectiveness of New York City's stop-and-frisk regime, and the small number of arrests, summonses, and guns recovered demonstrates that the practice is ineffective. Crime data also do not support the claim that New York City is safer because of the practice. While violent crimes fell 29 percent in New York City from 2001 to 2010, other large cities experienced larger violent crime declines without relying on stop and frisk abuses: 59 percent in Los Angeles, 56 percent in New Orleans, 49 percent in Dallas, and 37 percent in Baltimore. [New York Civil Liberties Union, accessed 8/14/13, emphasis added]

Urban Justice Center: “Two Cities That Have Less Aggressive Stop And Frisk Tactics” Saw Murder Decline By Greater Numbers. In his New York Times Room for Debate piece, the director of the Police Reform Organizing Project at the Urban Justice Center Robert Gangi noted that “murders declined by 43 percent in Washington and by 50 percent in Los Angeles,” far more than New York City's decline:

Echoing the dubious claims of his police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, Bloomberg defends tactics like stop and frisk by citing crime reduction in the city. But the relevant data hardly serve his argument. The drop in murders in New York City, for example, from 2002 until now has been about 12 percent, from 587 annually to 536. During the same period, the number of murders declined by 43 percent in Washington and by 50 percent in Los Angeles, two cities that have less aggressive stop and frisk tactics. [The New York Times, Room for Debate, 7/17/12]

Drop In NYC Murder Rates Predated Widespread Use Of Stop-And-Frisk

NYCLU: Largest Murder Decline In NYC Occurred Before Stop-And-Frisk Ramped Up. The New York Civil Liberties Union noted that the “murder drop happened before Bloomberg took office and before the explosion in stop-and-frisk”:

The murder drop happened before Bloomberg took office and before the explosion in stop-and-frisk. The year before the mayor took office there were 649 murders in New York City. In 2011, there were 526 murders. This 19 percent drop is important, but to suggest that murders were cut in half because of stop-and-frisk is simply wrong. [New York Civil Liberties Union, accessed 8/14/13]

Forbes: “Astronomical Increase In Stop-And-Frisks Came Well After The Significant Decrease In Number Of Murders, And Thus Cannot Be The Cause Of The Drop.” Naomi Robbins, a Forbes contributor with a Ph.D. in mathematical statistics, explained that stop-and-frisk policies cannot be the cause of the drop in murders in New York City:

Despite all the talk of declining crime and increased numbers of stop-and-frisks, are the two connected?  The short answer is no!  All of the graphs in today's post make it clear that the astronomical increase in stop-and-frisks came well after the significant decrease in number of murders, and thus cannot be the cause of the drop.

I present these different versions as a means to discuss choices and considerations when plotting two trends simultaneously.  To compare, the most straightforward method is simply to plot the number of murders and the number of stop-and-frisks, as I did in Figure 1. This clearly shows that the number of murders decreased sharply between 1990 and 1998 while the number of stop-and-frisks had a sharp increase beginning in 2002.  (Stop-and-frisk data are not available for years prior to 2002.)

Graph of NYC stop-and-frisks and murders

[, 3/23/12, some emphasis added]