Documented stop-and-frisks have fallen 86 percent since this time last year. But apparently minor marijuana-related arrests aren't dropping fast enough, with arrests for the lowest-level marijuana crime falling only 9 percent in the first quarter of this year—a disappointing number from a mayoral administration that pledged to reduce those arrests.
The NYPD reportedly conducted under 15,000 stop-and-frisks between January 1st and March 31st of this year, as compared to nearly 100,000 such stops during that same period in 2013. The controversial police practice was one of the cornerstones of Mayor de Blasio's campaign, and in January the mayor dropped the erstwhile Bloomberg administration's appeal against a federal ruling that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional. But critics say the decline of stop-and-frisk stops isn't enough—the mayor also promised to reduce "unjust and wrong" low-level marijuana possession arrests, particularly those that seemed racially driven, and the numbers show these arrests aren't dropping nearly fast enough. "The fact that there's a small drop isn't that significant, in that we know that these arrests are still going on in ways that they shouldn't be," Gabriel Sayegh, the Drug Policy Alliance's New York director, told the Associated Press.
In the first quarter of 2013, low-level marijuana arrests fell 34 percent, but in the first quarter of this year, the decline didn't even make a double-digit percentage. And some arrested individuals say cops are still flaunting the law when it comes to pot possession. Anthony Shelborne, who was arrested on a low-level pot charge in Harlem in February, told the AP that cops pulled a bag of pot that had been hidden from view in his underwear, a violation of his rights. "I don't know what made them stop us in the first place," Shelborne said.
During de Blasio's mayoral campaign, he railed against the fact that "too many young African-Americans and Hispanics — without prior convictions — are still arrested for marijuana possession after being stopped and frisked by police, who then treat it as public display." About 85 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession in New York City are black or Latino.