ACLU-NJ Director: Newark Stop-and-Frisk Data Raises Questions

Newly released data on Newark’s practices using stop-and-frisk has revealed how the city has run the program. ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the data from Newark is not that much different from the data on New York City’s stop-and-frisk program.

“What we realized, it’s not that different and in places it is different, it doesn’t bode well potentially for Newark,” said Ofer.

Six months worth of data on Newark’s stop-and-frisk program allows some conclusions to be formed, according to Ofer, but it does not allow for definitive conclusions. Ofer said the ACLU is still looking into the data.

Ofer said that the data on Newark shows some disturbing patterns that raise several constitutional red flags. Among those patterns, according to Ofer, include high volume of stops, racial disparities and that about 75 percent of the people who were stopped appeared to be innocent of any wrongdoing.

Between the statistics of Newark and New York City, Ofer said that the innocence ratio in Newark is a bit lower than New York City with 75 percent of people stopped in Newark being innocent compared to 88 to 89 percent in New York.

As for the racial disparities, Newark and New York are just about the same. According to Ofer, about 75 percent of people stopped in Newark are African-American. When it comes to the number of stops, Newark made many more stops with 91 stops per 1,000 residents compared to New York City with eight stops per 1,000 residents.

“What we make of it is that Newark uses stop-and-frisk at a regular basis and in fact what our data shows so far, it uses it at a much higher rate than the New York City Police Department,” Ofer said.

Although the percentage of people being stopped who are guilty are lower in Newark than New York, Ofer says that when three out of four people stopped are innocent, it still raises questions about who is being stopped.

“Well, when you get it wrong three out of four times, it raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the initial stop,” said Ofer.

Ofer says that the ACLU is complementary of Former Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Newark Police Director Sam DeMaio for issuing the stop-and-frisk policy and that the ACLU is analyzing all the data based on the policy. Although they continue to review all the data, Ofer said that there is still a need for more data and the Newark Police Department has to start addressing concerns about the stop-and-frisk data.

“The three things that we’re looking for, one is we need more data,” said Ofer. “Specifically data on what people are being stopped and what they’re being charged with, when they were being ticketed or arrested in those 25 percent of instances. Secondly we need them to review the practices and the three concerns that we raised about high volume, racial disparities and innocence rate and they should review it along with the federal monitor that will likely be appointed by the Justice Department.”