NEW YORK (AP) — Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson on Tuesday unveiled a plan to make police officers more accountable to the people they question under their stop-and-frisk policy as debate over the policy remains at the forefront of the race for City Hall.
Thompson, a Democrat, urged officers to issue tickets explaining why their stops were made. Specific causes, such as leaving a known drug hotspot or having a gun-like bulge in a pocket, would need to be cited.
Currently, police use the stop-and-frisk policy to question people they deem suspicious and can make stops based on the general cause of "furtive movement." Officers aren't responsible for explaining the stops, even if they don't lead to arrests.
Thompson said at a press conference outside New York Police Department headquarters that stop-and-frisk "should only be used when there's legitimate suspicion that a crime is likely being committed or when an officer believes that a suspect is armed and dangerous."
His proposal comes just days after a judge ordered a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program. The policy's critics believe it unfairly targets blacks and Latinos. Its supporters, who include independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, credit it for driving down crime.
The city is appealing the judge's decision.
Thompson said the tickets, which wouldn't carry fines, would produce data that the NYPD could study to determine why people are being stopped.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Eugene O'Donnell said what upsets people about stop-and-frisk now is "the capriciousness — a cop can stop someone and just move on without explanation."
"This sounds like progress," O'Donnell said, "but it does put another burden on the cop on the street."
An NYPD spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The main Democratic mayoral contenders — Thompson, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner — want to reform but keep stop-and-frisk. Only Comptroller John Liu calls for it to be abolished.
De Blasio, the race's new front-runner, this week released a television ad in which he says he's the only candidate who will "end a stop-and-frisk era that targets minorities." Thompson said the ad was "lying" and needed to be pulled down, a call echoed by Quinn's campaign.
The three main Republican candidates want to preserve the stop-and-frisk tactic as is.