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Dozens Speak Out At City Council Members’ Hearing On Stop-And-Frisk Policy

(Photo: CBS 2)

(Photo: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Residents on both sides of the issue voiced their concerns to New York City lawmakers Tuesday night about the practice of stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of people a year.

City Council members called the Tuesday night hearing in Brooklyn to gather public comments on proposals to set new rules for stop and frisks.

Many of the speakers complained that the stops target black and Hispanic people who aren’t doing anything wrong.

Ceiro De Jesus, 15, told lawmakers an officer stopped him and his friends while they were just playing basketball in a park last year. He said the episode made them feel like criminals.

But Ronald James Sorenson, 73, said he feels stop and frisks are necessary. He said people may be bothered, but it’s worth it because some stops recover guns.

The NYPD stopped close to 700,000 people on the street last year. Nearly 87 percent were black or Hispanic, and about half were frisked. About 10 percent were arrested.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg argues that the program is an indispensable tool in the fight against illegal guns. But critics argue the practice unfairly targets minorities.

The program allows city police to stop people on the street, as well as privately owned buildings, where they may question anyone they may see in the hallways or common areas.

But a recent class action lawsuit, being heard in federal court, accuses the NYPD of a “…phenomenon of systematic suspicion-less stops and arrests,” and that “Police harassment is so pervasive that adults cannot gather in their own courtyard.”

The New York Civil Liberties Union has said the Department is going over the line regularly.

Share your thoughts on the stop-and-frisk policy below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)