In an audio clip from his speech at the Aspen Institute, which circulated widely this month, Mr. Bloomberg said:
“It’s controversial, but the first thing — 95 percent of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities, 15 to 25. That’s true in New York, it’s true in virtually every city in America, and that’s where the real crime is.
You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed. … Kids think they’re going to get killed anyway because all their friends are getting killed, so they just don’t have any long-term focus or anything. It’s a joke to have a gun, it’s a joke to pull the trigger.”
He said other cities had higher murder rates than New York because “they haven’t gone after scaring the kids to get guns out of them. A lot of people don’t like the fact that that’s what you do, but that’s what stops this.”
“Put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. An unintended consequence is people say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana, they’re all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is.
The first thing you can do for people is to stop them getting killed. We did a calculation on how many people who would have been dead if we hadn’t brought down the murder rate and got the guns off the streets, and the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them against the wall and frisk them. Because then they say, ‘I don’t want to get caught,’ so they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.”
After a long stretch in which he didn’t prominently comment on stop-and-frisk, Mr. Bloomberg confirmed in an interview with The New York Times (parts of which were published at the time) that he still believed it had been the right policy during his tenure. He did allow, though, that circumstances might be different now.
“We used it at a point in time where there were an awful lot of people killing each other, and it was a technique that we used which was supported by a lot of people who said, ‘Look, we just got to stop this carnage no matter what.’ And based on that, we’ve evolved into using other techniques. But the murder rate came down dramatically, and what I look at is the number of people whose lives were saved by getting kids to not carry guns because they were afraid to be stopped.
The New York City Police Department is very well managed and has stayed within the law. And I can’t tell you every cop did everything perfectly, but I think it was a technique that was appropriate at the time. My job was to do everything I could to stop murder.”
When pressed on the fact that the crime rate kept falling after Bill de Blasio became mayor and abandoned stop-and-frisk, Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged the trend but said:
“Keep in mind, all of this stuff is built on what was done before. So you can’t just say the techniques you would have after kids are afraid to carry guns are different than the techniques you would use if they were not afraid to carry guns.”
During a question-and-answer session at the United States Naval Academy, a midshipman asked Mr. Bloomberg what he would say to the black and Latino communities affected by stop-and-frisk. Mr. Bloomberg said the police “certainly did not pick somebody by race” and added:
“We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system — kids who walked around looking like they might have a gun, remove the gun from their pockets and stop it. … 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. … It was a program which we had, and then when the number of guns we were confiscating started to fall and people left their guns at home, we tailed that off.”
Just a month before he renounced stop-and-frisk, Mr. Bloomberg defended it in a Washington Post interview and argued that it had actually helped minority communities.
“I came into a situation where an awful lot of people were killing an awful lot of other people, and it was all pretty much one community. And I just said, we are going to do anything we can to stop the carnage. The first thing was stop the murders. And we brought down the incarceration rate in jails by a third, mostly minority kids. We brought down the murder rate by 50 percent, from 600 to 300 murders, and you know who would have been killed.”