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.

The Fallible and Unsupported Argument Against Body Cameras

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Police departments nationwide have begun experimenting with body camera use. However, this has inspired many critics to come out against body camera use and warn others of the potential “dangers” of their use. An example of this kind of criticism can be found in an article written on a Bloomberg editorial board. In this article, the author makes several claims against the use of body cameras. The first argument the author makes is that video recordings are not helpful because they lack context and they can mislead juries.  This claim is invalid for many reasons. First of all, if an officer is forced to wear a body camera at all times while they are on duty, the context of the situation will not be ambiguous. The viewer of the video will be able to see the events that happened leading up to an altercation, as well as what happened during the altercation.

The second reason this claim is invalid is because the author is implying that just because video recordings are somewhat fallible, they should not be used at all. I find this logic very simplistic and unconvincing. It is better to have some recording of a situation than no recording at all. Yes, it is true that there might be bad lighting or an unhelpful angle on a video recording, but this only happens some of the time. Also, just because a video recording is unhelpful does not mean the audio recording is not useful. If the image is blurry but the audio still records an officer committing a crime, then the body camera was useful. d0e62304b81f6182931224c9b2dbf698a59c610b2c5d01093b58d2571d4d049c

In this article, the author also argues that body cameras could “erode trust between citizens and law enforcement.” Not only is this claim unsupported, it does not make logical sense. While it is true that some citizens may feel uncomfortable being recorded, this does not necessarily mean they will distrust police officers. On the contrary, it would make more logical sense that body cameras increase trust in police officers because citizens know the officer is being held accountable for their actions. Citizens should have more trust that they will be treated fairly because the officer would not risk engaging in misconduct when they are being recorded.

According to a Rialto, CA study done on the use of body cameras, there is evidence that the use of body cameras both decreased the use of force by officers and decreased the number of complaints against officers. Based on these findings, body cameras force officers to act properly when dealing with citizens and they are less likely to use force. This shows that body camera use actually aids the relationship between the police and citizens and does not “erode trust” like the author claims.

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