Stop and Frisk

Have you ever been stopped by a police officer while walking down the street? Did they ever pat you down for anything illegal because they were suspicious? Surprisingly, they’re allowed to do that because it is a law in New York City called the stop and frisk search. The bigger issue is the overall effect it has on young generation and the communities in which they reside in. This is in conflict with the fourth amendment of the U.S. constitution which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. Therefore, this has been a controversial issue among the mass media.

The term originally derived from the 1968 case Terry vs. Ohio, where a police officer observed three men roaming in front of a jewelry store. The police approached the men as he suspected of a robbery in progress. He then performed a frisk on the suspects, and found them in possession of a weapon. When the case went to trail, the defendant, Terry claimed that the search infringed his fourth amendment rights. However, the Supreme Court was in harmony with the police, and realized that officers have to confront dangerous situations that could ultimately threaten their life and the life of others. So, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state, and the officers received good responses under the Terry ruling in which they can stop a person if they’re suspicious of a possible crime in progress. Though, the stop and frisk policy didn’t take effect until 2002.

The practice is considered biased because of unfairly targeting young men especially those of color. It has caused serious disturbances concerning racial profiling and the privacy of individuals. Based on a NYPD report, about 9 out of 10 people has been stopped and frisked in 2011. Majority of them were African-American or Hispanic. Another study by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) shows that since 2002, New Yorkers has been stopped and questioned more than 4  million times. Large number of black and Latino communities are being targeted even though, most of them have been found innocent.

Minorities are aimed unethically by the police, and these experiences have created a negative impact on the mind of youths. Nicholas Peart, who’s a college graduate and works for nonprofit in Harlem, has been a victim of this stop and frisk practice several times to the point where he can’t remember anymore. In a short video clip he states, “It’s sort of like rites of passage for a lot of black and brown boys in different neighborhoods around the city.” Another victim, David Ourlicht, who is preparing for law school states, “I think that it creates distrust within the community.” It’s clear that young people are being affected and communities are being harmed by these unfair practices of the police department.

The police force is expected to protect citizens against any forms of violence; but it’s ironic how they’re misusing their power to make life difficult for the minorities. There’s a study done by two researchers named Fratello and Rengifo, who surveyed about five hundred young people in most “patrolling” neighborhoods of the city. This study was organized to understand the effects of stop and frisk practices in New York. They had trouble collecting information and data because people felt a discomfort to talk about their experiences with the police. However, the researchers turned their questions around and tried to make people comfortable with the things they were asking. Despite the difficulties, the researchers discovered the impact of this practice on young people.

The result was shocking when they learned that majority of young people between the ages of 13 and 25 were stopped the most and they’ve totally lost their faith in NYPD. The report also states, “88 percent of young people believe that residents of their neighborhood do not trust the police. Only 4 in 10 respondents said they’d be comfortable seeking help from police if in trouble. Young people who’ve been stopped more often in the past are less willing to report crimes, even when they themselves are the victims.” It’s tragic that young folks have lost their trust in the law enforcement due to the aggressiveness of the police. Apparently, this policy has proven to be an unsuccessful one which only violates the communities that are already intimidated.

Besides that, police officers apply violent force with young Blacks and Latinos during the stops. They treat them like criminals and make them feel inferior. According to the New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg has often argued in defense of this practice claiming that it’s remarkably crucial to reduce crimes rates. In contrast, weapons were actually recovered in only 1% of all stops. There’s no real evidence which depicts that this practice helped reduce shootings or crime rates as stated by PolicyMic. In general, this policy has caught a lot of media attention, and people have disputed that it produces a negative psychological impact on young Black and Latino groups.

The sad reality is that the authorities hold racist ideologies toward the Blacks, considering them as “criminals”. There’s a book called Black Metropolis, where the author writes that people tend to be scared of African Americans. However, some African Americans are able to create a better quality of living and move away from the “hood” to a “whiter neighborhood” as Drake describes it. But with African American’s moving in such neighborhoods; this causes Caucasian people to vacate these neighborhoods since many of these people aren’t ready to live in the same neighborhoods as Blacks. This fact makes it more problematic for African Americans to assimilate with other groups of people and society overall. Sadly, the government plays an important role in creating these racist notions by legalizing laws like stop and frisks policy that only focuses on certain groups of people. It proves that racism is not a thing of the past and resides in America. People are still dealing with all forms of social inequalities. I feel that only standing up to these problems isn’t enough; society has to come together as a whole in order to bring out the necessary change.

Click below to see the video:

Reference List:

1. http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/05/us/new-york-stop-and-frisk/
2. http://www.nyclu.org/issues/racial-justice/stop-and-frisk-practices
3. http://justpublics365.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2013/10/23/effects-of-stop-and-frisk/
4. http://www.policymic.com/articles/9914/stop-and-frisk-law-is-racist-and-the-shame-of-new-york-city
5. “Hunter College Libraries.” Databases Login. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. 


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