Michael Bloomberg Apologizes for “Stop and Frisk” Just a Few Months After Defending It

“I got something important wrong.”

Thibault Camus/AP

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Since leaving office in 2013, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has consistently backed his police department’s “stop and frisk” program in which black and Latino people were nine times more likely to be stopped by police than white people, all in an effort to reduce crime. 

As recently as January of this year, Bloomberg defended the policy, saying it succeeded in decreasing the city’s murder rate. But on Sunday, Bloomberg, who filed paperwork for two primaries in a possible bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last week, started his apology tour of sorts, telling a crowd of black churchgoers that he was “wrong” about stop and frisk. 

“Over time, I’ve come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong,” he said in a speech at a black megachurch in Brooklyn, apparently in an effort to marshal black voter support. “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.”

A federal judge in 2013 deemed the New York police department’s use of stop and frisk starting in 2005 unconstitutional. Research shows that the policy was largely ineffective as a crime reduction strategy.

Bloomberg’s apology also distances him from the president, who has praised stop and frisk policies for reducing crime and called on Chicago police to adopt the practice to stem the tide of gun violence there. Bloomberg’s turnabout at this megachurch speaks to the political nature of the apology: In 2012, he defended “stop and frisk” in the same church, the New York Times pointed out.

Some critics pointed out that “sorry” from Bloomberg simply wasn’t enough. 

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