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.”
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?
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.
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.
The purpose of this blog is to call for legislative reform to the flawed police system in the United States. Many people are outraged by the incidents of police brutality and injustice happening daily, like the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. Social movements like Black Lives Matter have brought these issues to mainstream news and social media, and this blog’s purpose is to further convince readers why police reform is necessary.
In this blog, we will call for the mandatory use of police worn body cameras, the demilitarization the police force, and the end of stop and frisk policies. We believe that by legislatively correcting these problems, we will begin to take steps towards having liberty and justice for ALL Americans, not just some. Please follow along each week and read why we think there are problems in our current police system system and how we think they should be solved.