Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk tactics, saying they have helped make the city the safest it has been in decades.
Bloomberg’s critics, including Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, have said stop-and-frisk can lead to harassment and racial profiling. But the mayor credited the tactics for helping to reduce the murder rate over his three terms.
If the murder rate had stayed the same as it was under his predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, there would have been 7,500 more people shot and killed over Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, he claimed.
"[That’s] 7,500 families that didn't have to have a funeral,” Bloomberg said in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “If that isn't something we should be proud of, I don't know."
Many of those potential victims would have been young, non-white males, Bloomberg said. New York City is on pace to have 323 murders this year, the lowest number since the mid-1950s, according to Newsday.
The mayor has made tougher gun laws one of his core issues, and said one of the main goals of stop-and-frisk is to “get the kids to think twice before they carry guns.” He cited the decline the gun seizures as evidence the policy was working.
“Some people say, 'Well, if you don’t get any guns, you shouldn't be doing it,’” Bloomberg (I) added. “The reason you're not getting any guns is because you are doing it.”
While de Blasio (D) campaigned as a critic of stop-and-frisk policing, he hired Bill Bratton as his police commissioner shortly after winning the election. Bratton expanded the use of stop-and-frisk during his tenure as Los Angeles police chief from 2002 to 2009.
But Bratton, who also served as New York’s top cop in the 1990s, has vowed to reform the way it’s used.
The future of stop-and-frisk, however, could be decided by a federal court. Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that the NYPD’s tactics violated the Constitution and demanded that it adopt a sweeping set of changes.
But the ruling was blocked by a higher court and the judge was thrown off the case due to questions about her impartiality.
Bloomberg said that the city has been “fully consistent with the law” and urged de Blasio to continue the court battle.
"I urged our successor to continue the appeal because it's very important to establish what the law really is and we think we will be vindicated,” he said.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.