Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D) defended the controversial “stop-and-frisk” program that was implemented during his tenure.
During an appearance on “The Late Show” on Tuesday, host Stephen Colbert asked Bloomberg why he apologized for the policy shortly before he announced he was running for president.
Bloomberg defended the policy because, he said, it helped decrease the murder rate. But he said when the policy started “getting out of control,” he decided to see if rolling it back would lead to an increase in murders.
“[I] Actually talked to the woman who’s my assistant — has a young son. And we talked about what would happen if her son was getting stopped. And I took a look and said, ‘Let’s try something, stop doing the stop-and-frisk and see what happens.’ We thought murders would go up. It didn’t. So I said, ‘Let’s phase it out.’ And before I left office, we cut 95% of them out.”
Watch his comments below:
Bloomberg continued to say he “made a mistake,” noting that sometimes “not everything goes the right way.”
But Colbert pressed Bloomberg on the criticism of the policy during his tenure in office and asked, “Why not assess it while it’s going on? As a leader, we want to know that when you’re in power, you change your mind, not after it doesn’t matter.”
“No, we did. But the murder rate from 650 down to 300, we reduced dramatically,” Bloomberg responded.
Colbert countered, “But you said afterward that it wasn’t because of stop-and-frisk, cause when you stopped, it didn’t change anything.”
Still, Bloomberg defended the program — in its early stages — and cited a series of policies he implemented to try to bring violent crime rates down.
“Well, we did the best thing we can. I think it had something to do with it at some point in time. You do too much of one thing, then you should stop doing it. We reduced the incarceration rate. We reduced the recidivism rate. We started a whole bunch of programs for young kids — one of which President Obama copied for the nation. You just have to do all the different things and try and see what happens.”
Despite defending it for years, Bloomberg apologized for the “stop-and-frisk” program before announcing his candidacy, saying, “I was wrong,” as IJR previously reported.
He has been criticized for apologizing for “stop-and-frisk” — which has been seen as a policy that unfairly targeted people of color —just before his candidacy. Critics charged that he only apologized to help his presidential bid win over minority voters.