Monday, December 09, 2019

Opportunity Squandered, Intentionally

Last month, Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg did more than "apologize" for the stop-and-frisk policy he implemented as mayor of New York City. He conceded error, stating (at :20 of the video below)

Now hindsight is 20-20.  But as crime continues to come down and as we reduce stops and as it continued to come down during the next administration, to its credit, I now see that we could, and should, have acted sooner and acted faster to cut the stops. I wish we had. I'm sorry we didn't. But I can't change history. However, today I want you to know I realize back then I was wrong and I"m sorry.

At first glance, this appears to contradict his defense of the policy a few years ago:

The contradiction, though, is more apparent than real.  Although Bloomberg has acknowledged the policy was misguided, he still isn't aware of the reason..  In June of 2013 he had contended "For years now critics have been trying to argue that minorities are stopped disproportionately; if you look at the crime numbers that's just not true. The numbers don't lie."

The mayor believed then that because proportionately more blacks than whites (inarguably accurate) commit violent crime that more blacks than whites should be stopped and frisked. He may still believe that.

Nonethless, when she ruled against the city in 2013, Judge Shira Sheindlin had observed

What you're drawing from the regression analysis is if they match well that proves there's no race bias. I'm saying it may be precisely the opposite. The closer the match may prove that the officer is saying that since Blacks commit crimes, I should stop Blacks to the same percentage as crime suspects. It's a worrisome argument.

It's worrisome not only because it's facially discriminatory but because it's illogical. While blacks are more likely to live in unstable and impoverished neighborhoods and thus more often run afoul of the law, the disparity dissipates within a given geographical area.   Hence, applying police resources in a particular part of town, then stopping more minorities disproportionately, is a case of double counting.

Evidently, Bloomberg does not realize that the problem with stop and frisk in NYC was that targeting blacks is unconstitutional and ineffective, as statistics indicated.   Instead, he stated "I now see that we could, and should, have acted sooner and acted faster to cut the stops,"  suggesting that fewer individuals should have been stopped rather than fewer individuals because of the color of their skin.

A "teachable moment," lost.  Anti-gun activist Mike Bloomberg could have noted that his experience as a big-city mayor has taught him two things. One of the means to reduce violence in neighborhoods plagued by crime is reducing the number of illegal firearms in circulation.  However, even that critical goal should not be pursued in a manner which promotes racial discrimination.  His choice not to do so eliminates the only worthy rationale for his candidacy.  

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