Stop And Frisk

UNITED STATES—The stop and frisk program inNew Yorkhas raised many eyebrows in the previous weeks, especially with news that a federal judge has ruled the tactic unconstitutional in the state. The tactics of the stop and frisk program are notably known to most scholars from the United States Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio, which indicated that authorities have the right to stop and frisk a person when probable cause is in place.

For those who are not aware, the Fourth Amendment prevents the legal system from unreasonable searches and seizures without proper cause.  The big issue with the stop and frisk program inNew Yorkwas that it led to an unreasonable amount of African-Americans and Hispanics being targeted by the New York Police Department.  I personally think the stop and frisk policy is an important tactic to decreasing the amount of crime inAmerica, but I am not an advocate for people’s personal rights being violated, especially if it is unlawfully done.

People can argue back and forth that a particular ethnicity is responsible for committing more crimes than others, but in all honesty anyone of any race or ethnicity is capable of committing a crime, so invoking prejudices and stereotypes based on what is depicted in the media is unjust.  The issue lies with the fact that in more than 90% of all cases, those individuals stopped weren’t even engaging in any criminal activity and were let go.

This prompts me to ask the question that many people are thinking, ‘what’ prompted officers to stop the individual in question?  Was it their race/ethnicity, the way they dressed, what was the probable cause that gave officers an instinct to halt a person?

This is extremely problematic because we live in a nation where so many people are already suspect of the police and do their best to not engage them.  This just fuels a larger fire between the public and those who are thought to serve and protect.  How is that tactic of stopping and frisking people who have committed no crimes or indicated no suspicion of a crime taking place constitutional? Its not!

We have to become a society that eliminates race from the equation. Stop seeing what we ‘want’ to see and see what we ‘need’ to see. We need to be a colorblind culture, but it’s an ideology that appears almost impossible to accomplish. We as a culture like to identify race, it allows us to group people and create distinctions, but what we fail to realize when we do that is it just creates more tension amongst certain groups.  The goal should not be to divide, but to unite.

The scary thing about the stop and frisk tactic is that is spreading to more cities acrossAmerica.  News in recent weeks indicated that the city of Detroit is implementing the program.  The city of Detroit has a prominently African-American population so some question if the tactic would be a form of racial profiling.  Yes, it is if someone assumes someone is committing a crime and stops them without having justifiable evidence or a probable cause to back up the stop to begin with.  There is a huge difference from having a hunch and an instinct, it appears most of the stop and frisk cases inNew Yorkwere hunches not instinct. Guess what, those hunches were wrong.  Now, people who were unjustly stopped may be harboring anger towards the police because their privacy has been invaded.

Now the biggest concern is that this tactic could lead people to protest, to revolt against the police, refuse to assist authorities with solving crime.  It’s a domino effect that has an impact on everyone.  The stop and frisk policy is something that is needed as it can prevent crime when performed in the right way.  The key is those that are implementing the tactic have to be taught correctly how to use it otherwise it could lead to a firestorm of issues that no one expected.

By Trevor Roberts