New York City

"Stop and Frisk" Grows as a Political Issue

People are noticing the massive growth in police use

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After more than a decade of complaints, the New York Police Department's practice of stopping and frisking people on the streets has suddenly moved to the forefront as a combustible political issue.

City Council members thundered at a hearing that the "stop and frisk" tactic is discriminatory and ineffective. Mayoral hopefuls have clamored to call for change. A politically powerful union has said it won't support a candidate who doesn't criticize stop and frisks, which officers conducted nearly 700,000 times last year.

How did stop and frisk go from perennial gripe to hot topic in just the last year or so? It was a case of many factors coming together, seemingly at once: increased use of the tactic, public pressure, campaign politics and residents' divided feelings about policing post-9/11 New York.