The number of stop-and-frisks performed by the NYPD have declined by 51% in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2012. Shootings and murders also dropped by 24% and 40% respectively in the same time period.

From January 1 through March 31 of this year, the NYPD conducted 99,788 stop, question, and frisks. For the same time period in 2012 that number was 203,500, continuing a decline in the practice that began last year.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the Wall Street Journal that the decline wasn't necessarily due to policy considerations: "Staffing and other factors, including training, have had a bearing on the number of stops. But the bottom line is that the total number of stops in any given quarter reflects what the police officers on duty during that quarter observed."

Whether the landmark federal trial weighing the constitutionality of the practice or the barrage of criticism against stop-and-frisk by mayoral candidates, or someone else has anything to do with it, the NYPD appears to be tweaking the frequency and the manner in which they make stops.

In March, the NYPD issued a directive that requires officers to more thoroughly document the stops they make, and alters the form officers use to document the encounters to better detail the officer's reason for stopping someone.

That directive addressed one of the requests for relief made by the plaintiffs in the case. City attorneys who ridiculed the idea that officers should be forced to better document stops at the outset of the trial were then forced to sheepishly turn the memo over to the plaintiffs.

The NYPD data cited by the WSJ was given to members of City Council last week, and shows that crime overall has decreased by 2.7% this year through April 28. Through that time period, murders have seen the largest decrease since last year, with 30%.

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the NYCLU, an organization that Mayor Bloomberg has twice compared to the NRA, said she was "encouraged" by the drop, and pointed to the overall decrease in crime along with the decrease in stops.

"It's important that we ensure that we get to a point as a city where the prospect of being stopped for doing nothing wrong is an aberration not the expected course of events in your life if you are a person of color," Lieberman said.