Why The “Effectiveness” of Stop and Frisk Is Invalid

Supporters of stop and frisk often rely on the same argument: stop and frisk has positive results, so it is a good policing technique. This argument is found in an article titled “Positive Results of Stop and Frisk Can’t Be Ignored.” The author relies on surface level, unsupported arguments to support stop and frisk policies in New York City and denies all claims that there is racial bias in the NYPD.

The first point author Greg Molinda makes is that of the 4.4 million stop and frisk incidents over the past 10 years, there have been 264,000 arrests and 66,000 weapons confiscated. Because of these numbers, he thinks the program is effective. While it is true that stop and frisk has some positive results, the author fails to recognize that out of the millions of people stopped, only 6% of those people were guilty of a crime. That means that 4.2 million other innocent people were stopped, humiliated in the streets, and treated like a criminal just because the officer “thought they were suspicious looking.”

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It is unfathomable that individuals could support a program with only a 6% success rate that has so many other negative consequences. To put 6% into perspective, imagine that a surgeon that only has a 6% success rate, and the other 94% of the time the patient isn’t cured. You would consider another surgeon, wouldn’t you?

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The second point the author makes is that police officers nationwide want to continue with stop and frisk because it helps them perform their jobs. Of course police officers would support a policy that allows them to search people for no reason! It gives them more power, so it makes sense that they would support the policy. Officers aren’t held accountable for stopping people illegally because they can simply claim they thought the citizen looked suspicious. This policy should be judged based on the impact to society, not by the officers who are benefiting from it.

Molina also tries to throw in the argument that there are black NYPD officers, so this policy can’t possibly be racist. This argument is reminiscent to that of “I have black friends, therefore I can’t be racist!” While there are black NYPD officers, that does not mean that the white NYPD officers aren’t being racially biased. It also doesn’t mean that black police officers can’t racially profile minority citizens. There is an phenomenon called internalized racism, which is the internal acceptance of society’s values that can cause a minority member to dislike their own race.

The issue with stop and frisk is that it allows officers to have too much discretion when stopping and searching citizens. While there may be some success, it is not enough to justify the humiliating search and seizure of innocent American citizens.

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