Crime rates in New York City hit historic lows last year, despite the demise of the NYPD's stop and frisk policy, reports The Huffington Post

The city saw totals across all major crimes fall. Data from 2017 collected by New York Police Department showed that there were only 290 killings, down from 335 homicides in 2016. Both of these numbers are a far cry from the 2,245 killings the city saw in 1990. Rapes, assaults, grand larceny and car thefts also decreased from the previous year.

NYPD commissioner James O’Neill said in December that crime rates haven't been this low since the 1950s.

The numbers run contrary to predictions of proponents of the NYPD's stop and frisk policy, who argued ending the tactic would lead to a rise in crime. When campaigning to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg, under whom stop and frisk flourished, current New York City mayor Bill DiBlasio promised to rein in the program. 

Critics of the program pointed to research that found that despite being a citywide policy, most of those stopped under the program were either black or Latinx. In 2011, for example, 686,000 mostly black and Latinx New Yorkers were stopped and frisked. 90 percent of all of those stopped and frisked that year were found to be innocent of any crimes, according to data collected by the NYCLU

By 2013, the NYPD had stopped and frisked millions of people. That year, The New York Daily News reported on a Columbia University study that looked at 4.4 million stop and frisk encounters; that study found that all of those stops turned up only 5,940 illegal guns, meaning that police found an illegal gun in less than 0.1 percent of all 4.4 million stop and frisks.

As Reuters reminds us, by August 2013,  a federal judge ruled NYPD’s practice of stop and frisk policing unconstitutional, forcing the department to reevaluate its commitment to the practice.

The ruling and the new mayoral administration led to the department ending its heavy reliance on the tactic, although it continues. From 2016 to 2017, stops fell 98 percent (to about 12,000 stops) and by 2017 the number of stops was even smaller. Some New Yorkers claim that those numbers are incorrect, however, arguing that due to political pressure NYPD officers are no longer properly documenting their stop and frisks.

Despite this, it is clear that there are fewer stop and frisks than there once were, and that crime is lower. This has led many stop and frisk advocates, such National Review columnist Kyle Smith to admit that they were wrong.

“On the other hand, why has crime come down so much further in New York City than, say, New Orleans or Baltimore or St. Louis? That would seem to draw attention to the quality of policing. Because we can’t study crime under lab-controlled conditions, we may never figure all of this out.” Smith wrote in a piece this week called “We Were Wrong About Stop And Frisk.”

David Weisburd, chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Proactive Policing and a professor of criminology at George Mason University, told HuffPost that stop and frisk was useless, and that it had little effect on crime during its heyday.

“There’s a place for stop, question and frisk in policing, but it’s not a 700,000-stops-in-a-city place, carried out by untrained police officers, newly out of the academy,” Weisburd said. “It shouldn’t be used as a general strategy. You don’t apply an overwhelming radiation treatment to somebody that has a cold.”

He said that other factors should be taken into account for the encouraging crime rates and noted that decreasing crime requires addressing other social ills. 

“Police aren’t the only thing affecting crime. Economic situations, social factors, shifting norms in the community, those also might affect crime,” he said. “The world is complicated.”