The Rev. Floyd Flake, the influential pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, recently said that while he believes the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program should be open to scrutiny, overall it has been effective in reducing crime in southeast Queens.
“I think stop-and-frisk is an important element in trying to stop crime in the community,” he told Errol Louis, host of “Inside City Hall” on NY1. “On the other hand, I would suggest that there are reasons to continually evaluate it, see what the outproduct is and see whether or not it’s doing what its intentions are.”
He added, “To a large degree, I think it is doing that, but to some degree there are innocent people who are in the streets, they are not carrying guns, they are not criminals and sometimes they are caught up in it.”
The 103rd Precinct, which covers downtown Jamaica just north of the former congressman’s cathedral, ranked eighth among city precincts last year in the number of stop-and-frisks, with nearly 88 percent of those stopped found to be innocent, according to NYPD figures released by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“In southeast Queens it is not really what I would call a top-shelf issue,” Flake told Louis when he was asked how his congregation felt about the practice.
“I don’t think we have as many crimes and as many murders, but we have many more than we need,” he said, “and so you have a population of people that want the best possible police surveillance and involvement and engagement.”
Floyd added he did not believe that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration was going “over the top” in its efforts to combat crime as Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s had.
“But I think this administration has tried to ... maintain some control,” he said.
Leroy Gadsden, president of the Jamaica branch of the NAACP, said he appreciated everything Flake had done for the community and said he thought the conversation should focus on illegal stop-and-frisks that target minorities.
“I don’t think people really understand what we mean when we say ‘illegal stop-and-frisks,’” he said. “They’re so tired of crime in their communities they’re willing to accept any antidote for the cure. This thing the NYPD is doing is not an antidote for the cure.”
Gadsden participated in the Father’s Day silent march down Fifth Avenue protesting stop-and-frisk and said he believes criticism of the policy, especially from elected officials, was having an impact on the mayor.
Speaking at a Brooklyn church the day of the march, Bloomberg said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s practices have made the city safe.
“We believe that when it comes to making stops — to borrow a phrase from President Clinton — the practice should be mended, not ended,” he said. “That work has already begun, and Commissioner Kelly has said that he fully expects the number of stops to decline in the months ahead.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community News Group
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