Meet the Press   |  August 18, 2013

How racial profiling informs policing in America

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly sits down with David Gregory to discuss the constitutionality of racial profiling and how the practice influences his department's efficacy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> to race, justice and how police departments around the country protect us from crime. the stop and frisk tactics used by the new york city police department are in jeopardy after a federal judge found them in violation of the constitutional rights of minorities. the city is appealing the ruling. we while the judge didn't exclusively reference trayvon martin in her opinion, she referred to the florida case and the racial disparities in our criminal justice system and policing systems. i'm going to talk to trayvon martin's mother, sybrina fulton, and family lawyer benjamin crump in just a moment. but first, i spoke to new york city police commissioner ray kelly on friday. commissioner, welcome to "meet the press."

>> good to be with you, david.

>> i wanted to have you on to have this conversation not just about stop and frisk in new york but about a broader conversation about policing in america, and indeed, this debate about racial profiling that has grown more intense because of the trayvon martin case as well. so, case in point, you've got judge shichein lynn in new york ruling that the stop and frisk policy in new york has violated the constitutional rights of minorities and here's part of her opinion. the city's highest officials, she writes, "have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner. in their zeal to defend a policy they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting the right people is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the united states constitution ." you strongly disagree. why?

>> i do strongly disagree. this case cries out for appeal. the judge has indicted the entire new york city police department, 35,000 officers, of racial profiling on the flimsiest of evidence. you look at the expert for the plaintiff and what he found. he looked at 4.4 million stops over a ten-year period. he found 6% of them were, in his opinion, unjustified. in the trial itself, there were 4 plaintiffs, there were 12 witnesses, there were 19 stops. the judge herself found that ten of the stops met constitutional muster. there were some problems with the frisks, the judge pointed out. but this is very small evidence, a small amount of information to have such a sweeping finding. we believe that --

>> commissioner --

>> we believe that they used a faulty formula to do that.

>> let me go back to those numbers that you referenced and put it up on the screen for our audience and go through some of those numbers and where some of the criticism is. 4.4 million stops. 6% arrests. 6% summons. 88% no further law enforcement action. and then look at who is getting targeted. 52% black, 31% hispanic, 10% white. i first want to focus on that 88% number of people not doing anything wrong. does that not say to you as the commissioner of the police, we're doing too much of this?

>> no. it doesn't mean that people are not doing anything wrong. if you look at the statute, it says reasonable suspicion that individuals may be about to commit, are committing or have committed a crime. one of the classic examples that we use is somebody going down the street trying door handles, or a group of young men that the bodega owner fears going to strongarm rob them when they leave their store. so, there's a preventive aspect to this. and people say innocent. that's not the appropriate word. what we use here --

>> further law enforcement action.

>> well, what we use here is a standard of reasonable suspicion . if you have probable cause, then you have enough to effect an arrest or issue a summons. this, by the way, is the standard law enforcement practice throughout america, certainly not just going forward in new york . and as far as your second set of numbers are concerned, we think reasonable criteria is a criteria that was developed or presented to us by the rand corporation , an institution that's been in existence for 100 years, that says that to take a look at racial profiling and determine if it happens, you should first look at the universe of people who are identified by the victims of a crime. the perpetrators identified by victims of violent crime . what does that universe look like? and in new york , that universe certainly comports to the racial makeup of the people who are being stopped.

>> so, let me understand what you're saying. basically, there are more african-americans and hispanics who are committing crimes in new york city . therefore, it justifies a higher percentage of those being stopped on the suspicion that they might do something wrong that they might commit a criminal act , because the judge says that's faulty reasoning. she's saying you can't take an innocent population and say that that's the same as a criminal population.

>> well, obviously, we don't agree with the judge and that's why we need an appeal issue to go forward here. these are fundamental questions that we're looking at. again, we think the rand corporation is reasonable criteria. we have, by the way -- i think it's interesting to point out, we have the most diverse police department probably in the