While highlighting violent crime among minority groups, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly promoted the controversial practice of "stop-and-frisk," a policy that has not stopped crime but has raised significant constitutional concerns.
On The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly argued that violence among minorities has decreased thanks to a program called "stop-and-frisk." The policy, which has been featured most prominently in New York City, allows law enforcement officers to stop and search anyone they consider to be suspicious. The New York Times reported that "the approach led to close to 700,000 stops in 2011 alone." On his show, O'Reilly described the program by saying "the police take the guns and they pat down people," adding, "Stats aside, it's a fact that if you take stop-and-frisk away, more black Americans and more Hispanic Americans are going to die":
But, as Fox News contributor Alan Colmes pointed out, there is no evidence that stop-and-frisk has decreased crime. New York magazine pointed out that shootings have actually increased in New York City as incidents of stop-and-frisk soared:
When looking at gun violence in which people don't die, shootings have remained steady while the number of stop-and-frisks skyrocketed:
While the NYPD was stopping and frisking a record 685,724 people last year, 1,821 people were victims of gunfire, according to NYPD and city statistics. That's virtually the same number as in 2002, Bloomberg's first year in office, when 1,892 people were shot, but just 97,296 people were frisked.
Between 2009 and 2011, the number of people shot in New York climbed from 1,727 to 1,821 even as the NYPD was ratcheting up the number of people it rousted from 510,742 in 2009 to the record 685,724, the statistics showed.
A similar pattern of rising shootings and escalating stop-and-frisks occurred from 2004 through 2006. During those years, the NYPD stop-and-frisks jumped 70 percent, from 313,523 to 506,491, but the number of shooting victims rose about 7 percent, from 1,777 to 1,880.
Responding to claims by the NYPD that stop-and-frisk is "critically important to recovering guns," the New York Civil Liberty Union noted that "while the number of stops has increased enormously since 2003, ... the number of additional weapons being recovered as a result of those additional stops is tiny":
The NYPD has increasingly sought to justify the large number of stops on the grounds that the stop-and-frisk program is critically important to recovering guns. In making this claim, the Department has noted that in 2011 stop-and-frisk resulted in the recovery of 780 guns. The Department's citation to the 780 figure is significantly misleading, however, when used in attempt to justify the increase in stops during the Bloomberg administration. In truth, while the number of stops has increased enormously since 2003 (the earliest year for which a gun recovery figure is available), the number of additional weapons being recovered as a result of those additional stops is tiny.
The program also has raised constitutional concerns. In May 2012, a federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed against stop-and-frisk, calling the program evidence of a "deeply disturbing apathy towards New Yorkers' most fundamental constitutional rights." In January, a part of the program was ruled unconstitutional. The New York Daily News reported:
Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered police to refrain from making some trespass stops outside private residential buildings -- even though the landlord has given officers permission to do so as part of the NYPD's "Clean Halls" program.
"While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings," Scheindlin wrote in a 157-page ruling.
O'Reilly has promoted stop-and-frisk before. On the June 5, 2012, edition of Fox & Friends, O'Reilly defended the program, saying "it is racial profiling, but it's really criminal profiling."