The numbers show two sides to the story.
Political reporter Marcia Kramer has the exclusive story.
There have been cringe-worthy videos. One shows police restraining a 15-year-old in East New York over the weekend. Another on the Lower East Side lead to a police Internal Affairs probe. Both have been cited as evidence that police have targeted members of the minority community in enforcing social distancing.
“It’s the new stop and frisk,” said attorney Sanford Rubenstein.
On Thursday, a caravan drove from police precincts in Brooklyn to Manhattan in protest.
“They are not dealing with this issue in the white community, but in the black community, we are being harassed, we are being beaten,” community activist Rev. Kevin McCall said.
“The way they tossed my son in the street, broke ribs, stood on his head like he was nothing, it just sickens me,” said Donna Wright, the mother of one victim.
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A police source emphatically denies the NYPD is substituting social distancing for stop and frisk.
Data obtained exclusively by CBS2 shows stops are down dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic. From March 16-May 5, police made 1,053 stops, compared to 2,335 in 2019.
When it comes to social distancing enforcement, the NYPD recorded about one million contacts that lead to 368 summonses and 120 arrests.
Breaking down the arrests by race: Nearly 68% were black, 24% were Hispanic and nearly 7% were white.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police captain, told Kramer he finds that troubling.
“If we’re saying after the initial engagement it leads to police action, and over 90% of police action leads to the arrests of people of color, that is problematic because it states that we didn’t have to do anything too often, but when we did do it, 90% were black and Hispanic,” Adams said.
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Police Commissioner Dermot Shea had a different take.
“We have been enforcing citywide with an extremely light touch,” he said. “We have had millions of contacts with people and a handful of summonses, violations and arrests. I don’t want to turn the NYPD into the morality police.”
Both the mayor and the police commissioner say the videos represent only a small number of incidents, but the commissioner said he would evaluate each one and let the chips fall where they may.
“We have to make an impartial decision,” Shea said.
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The DA is investigating several cases in Brooklyn.
“A lot of these videos, cooler heads didn’t prevail,” said Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, commanding officer of Brooklyn North.
He had a message for those who think communities of color are being targeted.
“Tensions just got a little too hot,” he said. “We are not targeting a particular neighborhood.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised new guidelines, and said he is working on a plan to get community groups involved in social distancing.