Bloomberg Flip Flops on Stop-and-Frisk as He Mulls Presidential Bid

He defended the policy as recently as January 2019

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg / Getty Images
November 17, 2019

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (D.) on Sunday reversed his support for the "stop-and-frisk" policing policy that he pursued for a decade.

Bloomberg, who defended the policy earlier this year, made the announcement during a speech at Christian Cultural Center, a black megachurch in Brooklyn. During the speech he apologized and said he was "wrong" to pursue the policy, according to the New York Times.

"Over time, I've come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong," Bloomberg said. "I got something important really wrong. I didn't understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives—but as we know: good intentions aren't good enough."

Bloomberg talked about how he was so focused on saving lives that he was not paying attention to the number of innocent people who were being stopped because of their skin color.

"Far too many innocent people were being stopped while we tried to do that. And the overwhelming majority of them were black and Latino. That may have included, I’m sorry to say, some of you here today, perhaps yourself, or your children, or your grandchildren, or your neighbors or your relatives," Bloomberg said.

Following his remarks, Rev. A. R. Bernard, a former adviser and longtime ally of Bloomberg, shook his hand and asked the crowd to "show some love and appreciation" for Bloomberg. The Times said there was "tepid applause."

The "stop-and-frisk" program gave New York police officers the authority to stop anyone without a warrant if they suspected them of committing a crime. When Bloomberg was asked about the program in January 2019, he defended it, saying, "the result of that was, over the years, the murder rate in New York City went from 650 a year to 300 a year when I left."

Bloomberg, who recently joined the Democratic presidential primary, will be focused on Super Tuesday races and will circumvent the first four states that vote.