After Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump lamented the end of "stop-and-frisk" police policies in New York, debate moderator Lester Holt stepped in. "The argument is that it's a form of racial profiling," Holt said. (The Washington Post)

 

It is hard to know even where to begin here.

In keeping with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's deft use of crime and the irrational fear of the nation's crime rate -- a figure that preliminary FBI data released Monday indicates violent climbed 3.9 percent between 2014 and 2015 -- Donald Trump told America a string of lies Monday night about crime, crime prevention and racial profiling.

Here's the critical portion of the debate transcript in case you missed this. The debate was moderated by NBC News's Lester Holt:

TRUMP:...We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African-Americans, Hispanics are living in he'll because it's so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot. In Chicago, they've had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1st. Thousands of shootings. And I'm saying, where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing? And we have to stop the violence. We have to bring back law and order.

In a place like Chicago, where thousands of people have been killed, thousands over the last number of years, in fact, almost 4,000 have been killed since Barack Obama became president, over -- almost 4,000 people in Chicago have been killed. We have to bring back law and order. Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, Mayor Giuliani is here, worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down. But you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn't be having it. We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they're illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant.

We have to be -- we have to know what we're doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime, decimated.

HOLT: Your two -- your two minutes expired, but I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.

TRUMP: No, you're wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it's allowed.

HOLT: The argument is that it's a form of racial profiling.

TRUMP: No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from these people that have them and they are bad people that shouldn't have them.

These are felons. These are people that are bad people that shouldn't be -- when you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns, from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, his hometown, you have to have stop-and-frisk.

Let's start by dissecting Trump's claims one at a time.


HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Stop and Frisk did not simply die because a new mayor was elected in New York who did not want to continue to fight for it in court. A federal court issued an order -- you can click and read it right here -- in 2013, preventing the use of stop and frisk. The Bloomberg administration appealed the ruling on the grounds that murders in the city would spike. They did not. Then, in 2014, a new mayor took office who declined to continue the appeal.

Why did a federal court issue an order in 2013 putting a stop to stop and frisk? Well, the court order is available for all to read right here. But here's the key bit. Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote in her order that stop-and-frisk had become a "policy of indirect racial profiling." The evidence was pretty overwhelming that police used the tactic to stop hugely disproportionate numbers of black and Latino people in New York, particularly the young.

For example, in 2011,when stop-and-frisk activity reached an all-time high in New York, police stopped 685,724 people, according to police data analyzed by the American Civil Liberties Union. A full 53 percent were black, 34 percent were Latino and 9 percent were white. More than half were ages 14 to 24 years old.

Stop and Frisk did not, in fact, reduce crime in New York -- nor did crime surge after a federal court barred New York police officers from continuing to use the tactic. One reason may be that the program did not actually focus on criminals or detect many illegal guns.  Of the 685,724 people stopped and frisked, 88 percent were neither arrested nor received any sort of citation. They had done nothing wrong. Nothing. And here's the thing that no one should miss: Among the most common reasons police cited for stopping individuals: "furtive movements," and "suspicious bulges," in their pants or other clothing. That is according to the New York Police Department's own data. In the years before and after 2011, the police department produced very similar patterns in the application of stop and frisk.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says he favors "stop-and-frisk." Here's what that means and why the policy is so controversial. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

So those are the facts. But here is the other matter completely left our of Trump's advocacy for stop and frisk and most assessments of the tactic. It had a human toll.

Trump equated the huge numbers of people of color stopped and frisked with a "bad guys," "felons" and so forth. That is a convenient fiction that allows Trump and anyone who wants to embrace policies like stop and frisk to ignore the way it really works. Again, of the 685,724 people stopped, 88 percent were totally innocent. A huge majority were stopped largely, it seems, because they were black or Latino and young and therefore suspicious to police.  What's more, among the many bits of evidence presented in that federal court case that put a stop to the tactic was testimony from police officers who said they had been reprimanded for failing to meet stop and frisk quotas for black men set by their superiors. That's about as close to a formal policy of devaluing human beings with constitutional rights as one can imagine.

For those who remain dubious that stop and frisk is a damaging thing, there is this. After its 2015 National Policy Summit on Community-Police Relations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police issued a report which included this passage (see page 7):

In another example, ‘stop and frisk'  policies employed by police across the country have had negative effects...While these policies are clearly intended to reduce crime, the unintended consequences are often a reduction in perceptions of police fairness, legitimacy, and effectiveness. The lack of trust in the police, and their practices, can run so deep in segments of communities that interactions with law enforcement bring with them building anger and resentment over real and perceived procedural injustice and inequity.

Crime and the fear of crime has long been a go-to political tool for Republican presidential candidates. But Donald Trump has issued the most overt calls for racial, ethnic and religious profiling as a public safety measure made by any presidential candidate in more than 50 years.