For a Change of Pace, a Story Told in Lives Not Lost

Well, not everyone. You can, of course, always manage to find one New Yorker who sees things upside down. In this case, the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump managed that trick during a campaign debate last year.

“Murders are up, all right,” Mr. Trump said. “You check it.”

Wrong then, wrong now. That may not qualify as startling news, but it is welcome. As the city has grown, it has become safer and safer.

The cause of the (nonexistent) crime increase, Mr. Trump had said, was that “a judge, who was a very-against-police judge,” acting in concert with Mayor Bill de Blasio, had ended the use of stop-and-frisk.

Candidate Trump got the murder trend completely wrong, but sometimes people stumble on facts when rushing to get to a larger truth.

In this case, Mr. Trump was trying to get at an even bigger untruth.

More than 4 million innocent people were stopped and frisked between 2002 and 2012. Most were under the age of 25. The vast majority were black or Latino. Under pressure from a lawsuit, the practice was scaled back beginning in 2012 — not by the order of a judge, not by Mayor de Blasio, but by his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

Today, the police still stop and search people, but the number of such encounters has dropped by more than 98 percent since its peak in 2011 — down to 12,404 in 2016, and about the same pace this year. Six years ago, 685,724 were stopped and searched — 605,328 of whom had done nothing wrong, and many thousands who had done nothing worse than carry marijuana.

Along the way, a federal judge did say that the city’s wholesale stop-and-frisk practices violated the Constitution. But contrary to the cries of Mr. Bloomberg, the police commissioner and some editorial writers, further curtailing this approach did not make the city more dangerous. In fact, the opposite happened. That is unambiguously great news.

In the six years since the police department began cutting back on searches, murder in the city has dropped by almost half. The department now puts its resources on groups — gangs — that it sees as likely to be victims or perpetrators of crime, or both.

Other realities: The city’s economy is booming. Jobs have grown for 90 straight months. “It’s wrong to say that the police are completely responsible for the murder decrease,” said Stephen P. Davis, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner for public information. “It’s also wrong to say these…

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