Proponents of the policy say that it is an effective method for keeping guns off the streets and dangerous neighborhoods safer. Opponents, who held a large protest march in Manhattan this past Sunday, say that the policy unfairly targets minority youth who are randomly stopped simply because of the color of their skin.
No matter what side of the debate you fall on, what it has done is spurred a much-needed dialogue about the role of the NYPD in our communities, and the relationship officers have with residents of New York City.
Case in point: last week the NYPD announced that it would be updating its policy guide to offer more precise guidelines on how to deal with members of the transgender community. This is a perfect example of the NYPD adapting to a growing segment of the population, and making sure that when officers interact with members of the LGBT community, they are doing so in a respectful manner.
The stop-and-frisk debate, we believe, also led to the introduction of a bill in the City Council last week that would created an independent oversight body when it come to the NYPD. New York is one of the last big cities in the country that doesn't have an agency independent of the police force that reviews practices and policies.
This is a step in the right direction when it comes to resolving issues between residents and members of the police force, and is a direct result of the recent controversy.
None of this likely would have come about without the debate over the stop-and-frisk policy, which while spirited and impassioned, has also been a fruitful – and we think, for the most part, respectful - dialogue about community/police relations. And we feel that these two new measures will also go a long way toward improving those relations.
Hopefully, as a city we can move past seeing our men and women and blue and automatically feeling it is an us-vs.-them relationship. It won't be easy and it won't happen overnight, but we think it can be done.