During the 2016 Presidential Election, “stop and frisk” was a topic that was highly debated between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. For those of you who don’t know, stop and frisk is a controversial police practice where an officer can detain a “suspicious” individual and lightly run their hands over their body to see if they are carrying a weapon. The justification behind this practice is that it prevents crimes from happening, but in reality the practice does more harm than good. The practice of stop and frisk should be banned in police departments nationwide because it is racially biased towards minority men.
In 2013, a federal judge ruled that the way the NYPD was conducting stop and frisks was unconstitutional. The main argument in the ruling was that between 2003-2013, the NYPD was targeting minority men with their stops, which violated their constitutional rights. One statistic the court cited was that Black and Hispanic men were more likely to be stopped for “furtive movements,” or for looking like they are trying to hide something. This is problematic because it shows how officer’s unconscious or conscious racial biases can lead them to target minority men. If they are unconsciously racist toward minorities, then of course they will think they are “acting suspiciously” when they are not doing anything wrong.
This issue is not just found in the NYPD. Evidence of racially biased stops were also found in Philadelphia in 2015. They found evidence that “one-third of all stops and 42 percent of all frisks were conducted without a valid reason, and the vast majority of the people searched were black.” In addition, “out of 794 illegal stops, 71 percent targeted black people.” This shows that not only are these stops racially motivated, but a majority of the stops are being performed illegally! If an officer can’t differentiate between a valid stop and an illegal stop, then the practice of stop and frisk will only lead to more corruption in our police system.
This problem does not only exist in New York and Philadelphia, but they are two prime examples of how our citizens are being mistreated by the police. A program that was designed to help our society has unfortunately given the police more power than they should have. Officers should not have the right to simply stop someone they deem as being suspicious. They also should not have the option to stop someone just because of their racial biases. We do not need our citizens to be stopped and frisked, we need police reform.