The number of times police officers stopped, questioned, and frisked people on the streets of New York City has dropped significantly lately, by more than 34 percent. A key contributing factor appears to be that police commanders have grown wary of pushing for such stops at daily roll calls. Widespread criticism of so-called stop-and-frisks has also contributed to the drop, some say, with officers simply choosing not to question people they might have stopped before. The decline suggests that officers are unsure whether the political support remains for street stops, long a focal point of Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly's crime-fighting strategy.

Three controversial court rulings have raised questions about the New York Police Department's use of the tactic, and Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Kelly have put in place new measures aimed at ensuring lawful stops. "Cops are nervous, and supervisors are nervous" about the stop-and-frisk practice, said a police supervisor. The NYPD conducted 203,500 stops in January, February and March this year, according to the department's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne — a record number.