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How Cop Bashers Menace Minorities By: Heather Mac Donald
New York Post | Wednesday, August 13, 2008


THE New York Civil Liberties Union last week again proved that it doesn't care about the lives of black (or Hispanic) New Yorkers, by launching another tedious lawsuit against the NYPD.

The lawsuit seeks an official tally of the race of civilians shot by the police since 1998 - but everyone already knows what those numbers would show. And all but the most pig-headed know why.

The great majority of those shot by the police are black or Hispanic - for the simple reason that street-level crime is overwhelmingly committed by black or Hispanic perps.

More important - though not to the NYCLU - is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the victims are also black or Hispanic. That means that stopping crime is first and foremost a lifeline for the city's minority community.

The silence about these facts by those who claim to be guardians of minority rights is shameful.

Until the black crime rate is brought down, all police activity - stops, arrests, life-saving assistance to crime victims and the rare officer shooting - will fall disproportionately on blacks as well.

The NYCLU's suit alleges that the NYPD is "hiding" race data on officer shootings. Nonsense. Every time the police brief the media on an officer shooting, they discuss the victim's race.

Yes, since 1999, the department's firearms-discharge reports have omitted aggregate data on the race both of officers who fire their weapons and of their targets. But it compiles those internal reports to evaluate tactics in officer shootings; the race of the victim is irrelevant to such matters as whether the cop properly took cover before firing his gun.

That said, then-Commissioner Howard Safir's decision to stop including racial data in the department's shooting analyses probably was influenced by the furor over the tragic and aberrant killing of Amadou Diallo in February 1999. There is little reason other than bureaucratic inertia and the NYPD's bunker mentality not to include racial data - however irrelevant - in its internal shooting reports. Omitting it merely gives the anti-cop demagogues another fake issue with which to divert attention from the real policing story.

Which, again, is the wildly disproportionate role of blacks in crime, including weapons assaults.

In the first six months of 2008, 787 people were shot by 576 gunmen. Eighty-three percent of those shooters were black, according to victims and witnesses, even though blacks make up only 24 percent of the city's population. Nearly 78 percent of the victims were black. Add in Hispanics, and you account for 98 percent of all shooting perps and 97.5 percent of their victims.

The police, by contrast, shot 12 suspects, mostly armed, in the first six months of 2008, roughly 90 percent of them black and Hispanic. (Whites and Asians, roughly 45 percent of city residents, are virtually absent from our gun battles: They made up 1.5 percent of shooting suspects in the first half of 2008, and 2.3 percent of gun victims.)

In justifying the lawsuit, NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn told The New York Times: "In a city where there have been lots of concerns about blacks being shot, [the police racial-shooting data] is information that needs to come out."

Amazingly, he means "concerns about blacks being shot" by the police, not by criminals. Yet in 2007, of the city's 496 homicide victims, 321 (65 percent) were black, and nearly all their killers were other blacks.

The NYCLU protested none of those black-on-black shootings; it treats them as the natural order of things. Only when cops, trying to protect law-abiding New Yorkers, shoot an armed perp or (in rare instances) an unarmed civilian does the anti-cop establishment snap to attention. Yet the police killed only 10 suspects in 2007 while trying to stop crimes.

The math is clear: If you actually care about saving black lives, go after criminals, not the cops.

It's the NYPD, not its reality-resistant critics, that has saved thousands of black lives since the early 1990s. Through a combination of obsessive, data-driven management and true grit, the department has brought the crime rate down to 40-year lows. Had murders remained at their 1993 level - 1,927 killings - 13,698 more people, overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, would have been dead by 2005.

Even as the NYPD achieved its historic crime rout, it brought its own use of force sharply down. In 1973, a department of 29,000 officers killed 54 civilians - 1.82 fatal shootings per 1,000 officers. In 2007, a 36,000-officer department killed 10 people - 0.28 fatal shootings per 1,000 officers.

When cops use their weapons, blacks and Hispanics will disproportionately be their targets, so long as blacks and Hispanics make up more than 98 percent of all shooting perps, as they were in the first six months of this year. And, again, the odds are that the civilians the police are rushing to protect are also black or Hispanic.

But even if you (like the NYCLU) care only about the criminal part of the minority population, the best way to decrease the number who are shot by the police each year is to bring down the minority crime rate.

Instead, the cop-attack industry, including most of the media, relentlessly tells cops: You are a racist, you are a scourge on the black community. At some point, police officers may decide the fight isn't worth the candle - and stop working so diligently to protect law-abiding minority New Yorkers. And it will be hard to blame them.


Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Her latest book, coauthored with Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga, is The Immigration Solution.


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