BY RUDY GIULIANI
One of the strategies that helped bring about an 85% reduction in crime in New York City between 1994 and 2013 was the careful and appropriate use of “stop and frisk.” This practice dramatically reduced the number of guns, knives and other dangerous weapons, as well as illicit drugs, in the city.
But according to candidate Hillary Clinton and moderator Lester Holt during Monday night’s presidential debate, stop and frisk is “unconstitutional.” They are wrong. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, it’s the usual misrepresenting she does when she does not know what she is talking about. As for Mr. Holt, if a moderator is going to interfere, he should do some homework and not pretend to know the law when he does not. Mr. Holt and NBC cannot overrule the U.S. Supreme Court.
In many places, this practice is called a “Terry stop,” based on the decision upholding its constitutionality. It is a police technique used by all law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Over a 20-year use of this policy, spanning the administration of two New York City mayors and four police commissioners, stop and frisk played a material part in reducing homicides in New York City. It helped to change New York City from the crime capital of America to the safest large city in the country. In each of those 20 years, approximately six of 10 murder victims in New York City were African-Americans. In other words, stop and frisk saved many black lives.
In the case discussed during Monday’s debate, federal Judge Shira Scheindlin found in 2013 that the way Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Ray Kelly applied stop and frisk was unconstitutional. The practice had been expanded to 600,000, the vast majority being of African-Americans. Previously, during my administration, for eight years under Commissioners William Bratton, Howard Safir and Bernard Kerik, the stops and frisks always fell short of 100,000.
During my administration, the U.S. Justice Department spent two years examining stop and frisk and it filed no case. After continued use of the practice during the administration of Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly, Judge Scheindlin found that the volume of stops and the focus on the African-American community made the practice not unconstitutional in general but unconstitutional as applied. This is the distinction that is so important—yet was misunderstood by Mr. Holt and misrepresented by Mrs. Clinton.
During the debate, Donald Trump described the history of the case correctly. He said that after the judge decided the case, the city appealed and asked for a stay of the lower court’s decision. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a scathing opinion, criticized Judge Scheindlin for improperly steering the case to her courtroom. It issued an unusual stay to allow the Bloomberg-Kelly form of stop and frisk to go forward until the court could decide the appeal. And in a rare action, it removed Judge Scheindlin from the case.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision underscores Mr. Trump’s position that stop and frisk is constitutional and plays a critical role in saving lives. The Court of Appeals issues a stay or injunction only if there is a likelihood of success on the merits for the appeal and the lower-court ruling will create irreparable damage. The likelihood of success means the court believes there’s a good chance that the judge’s ruling of unconstitutional as applied was going to be reversed. And irreparable damage means that the court came to the same conclusion as Mr. Trump, that stop and frisk plays a critical role in reducing crime.
Donald Trump was right. Hillary Clinton was wrong. Lester Holt should apologize for interfering and trying so hard to help Mrs. Clinton support her incorrect statement that stop and frisk is unconstitutional.
Mr. Giuliani was mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001. He is an adviser to the Trump campaign.