Stop and Frisk
“Stop and frisk” is the strategy where a police officer is lawfully authorized to stop people and tap them in the event of a reasonable suspicion of a crime is about to happen, has happened or is in the process of taking place. The police question these people and then frisk them to find firearms or any contraband. Using all the means necessary is mandatory for a good justice system to stop crimes. It is, however, important to employ only the best and the most suitable methods for curbing these delicts. Undoubtfully, the purpose of similar measures is to create a peaceful society and protect the rights of the law-abiding citizens. Are the police’s methods are worth applying in case they include any bias or disrespectful acts? Is “stop and frisk” a good technique or do the disadvantages outweigh its merits, in New York City case particularly?
Surely, it is the responsibility of a criminal justice to fight and find ways in the first place to prevent all kinds of antisocial behaviour but the means obviously should not undermine human rights or create chaos and division. “Stop and frisk” is not totally a poor idea but it always has a chance to be carried out in an appropriate way. Changing of some policies of the technique‘s operating could have a much better effect on reducing crimes. The unlawful acts can be committed by anybody and anywhere despite their race or their neighborhood. When this technique was implemented to reduce crime rates in New York City, despite its accomplishments, it turned out to be a complete failure. The police officers have been recorded several times and from the recordings, it was revealed the police to carry out the process without adherence to any courtesy.
First and foremost, it should be taken into consideration that the police officers are human beings as well as those criminals or just the suspected innocent people. According to a Nation Magazine video “The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy”, when the police implements “stop and frisk”, there is no better option but to stop and frisk as many people as possible otherwise they will get low rating from their inspectors (2012, October 9). Is that achievable for the officers to prioritize impartiality over getting high numbers under these conditions? They have no other choice but stop and frisk even if a person passing by does not pose any threat of crime. Moreover, in those neighborhoods with high crime rates, the police should collaborate with people living there to help to prevent and to stop crimes happening, which unarguably requires some trust between the two.
People can act as police informants and in the event of a suspected criminal activity, citizens can tip off about some suspicious situations around. Normally, criminals are civilians and carry out their criminal activities within the society, so the best way to face a situation is to include the cooperation of the people rather than instill fear. Kasim Walters, a teenager of color aged 17, describes how horrifying these “stop and frisk” scenarios were. He says that he was not sure if he could come out alive witnessing a “stop and frisk” operation going wrong and resulting in the death of a teenager. He narrates about multiple cases happening to the teenagers of his age being shot and left bleeding in the street. The criminal justice system should find more relevant ways to work with this kind of people, which could improve the crime situation as a whole. When receiving this kind of attitude from the law enforcement officers, those degraded victims become reluctant to even report crimes. Consequently, this will result in the aggression of people, making them celebrate when a police officer is shot.
Some people argue that “stop and frisk” is not racist as the research indicates that a higher percentage of robberies and gun shootings (which is around 98%) are always committed by blacks and Hispanics. Additionally, they argue that a chance of a young man of color to be murdered is 36 times more likely than that of a white and the assailants are always other blacks or Hispanics (Gelman, Jeffrey & Alex, 2012). Even if this was true, does it mean that every person of color should be stopped and frisked with a consideration of their criminality? If the people of color commit crimes against each other, it means that there are actually those that are law abiding. Using this method is, therefore, an excuse for racial profiling since the witness reports put the number of people of color higher than the part of those people of color who are robbed and hot. Generalizing this idea is, therefore, inappropriate because the remaining people of color are being inspired fear of the police, which makes even the thugs as Kasim Walters fashion it. He perceives the system of collaboration between the police and the civilians to be at the moment a very wide rift, as was mentioned in ABC news, “NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk: Racial Profiling or ‘Proactive Policing’?” (2013).
“Stop and frisk” is also not a good idea because it undermines human rights especially that of minorities. When the NYPD enforced this technique in New York City, their targets were mainly young men of color aged between 14 and 24 (ABC news, 2013). The police officers conducting this exercise had no respect for these minorities. They used provocative and abusive words towards these people and as if it was not enough, they used threats during the operation. The law is supposed to protect the rights of every citizen and not violate them otherwise the law would be irrelevant. Some of these people were also stopped more than once in a span of just a few hours. This technique was designed in a way that it cannot tell if a person has been stopped or not. This could be very humiliating just to know that you are targeted because of the appearance and not because of being involved in a criminal activity. Statistics show that even though black and Hispanics are a minority forming only 23% and 29% respectively, 84% of the people stopped are young men from this two minority groups.
Proactive policing is a very good idea of stopping crimes before it happens but should not be a leeway for committing it by the law enforcement officers. Undisputedly, safety has no gender, however, respect is an important part of the human society. The police and the public should respect each other and respect the law and the constitution. According to a police inspector Kim Y. Royster, these pieces of training are not gendered. Male officers are allowed to frisk even female which is always humiliating and embarrassing. In these cases of “stop and frisk”, the police dared to tap down a woman even touching her groin areas and one can only imagine how it feels for a woman to be touched in public (Ruderman, 2012). This is disrespectful to women especially if the woman feels that her privacy is invaded just because she belongs to a minority group. He goes on to admit that it is intrusive but still the best option for finding out where the weapons are concealed. Also, it is disrespectful to take out a woman’s personal effects in public by male officers who at times do not know what these things are or what they are used for.
If they ever considered using female police officers to frisk female citizens, then maybe this method would have received a different reception. Jumaane D. Williams believes that the police treat people with color with less respect compared to others. He gives an example of the case of an organized crime in an Italian neighborhood where he thinks the police could not afford “stop and frisk” strategy. He stresses the need for the police to treat them with the same respect as other citizens of the nation (ABC news, 2013). I totally support his opinion and think that the law should respect and treat all citizens equally.
It is the mandate of the criminal justice system to fight crime using all necessary means but to employ divisive and discriminating methods is a total disaster. The law enforcing body should work with the community to help reduce and stop crime even before it happens. Proactive policing is a brilliant idea but the policies under which “stop and frisk” technique operates are not appropriate and if it has to be considered then the policies should be amended. This paper has discussed why I think “stop and frisk” is a total disaster as a method of fighting crime, as a matter of fact, it even undermines police effectiveness. When officers work for numbers other than working to stop crime then we can conclude that it is just a total failure. The police can rely on the assistance of the citizens by building trust and having informants to tip them off before crimes take place.
ABC news. (2013, May). “NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk: Racial Profiling or ‘Proactive Policing’?” [YouTube]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jqXeW5C324
Gelman A., & Kiss A. (2007, September). An analysis of the New York City police department’s “stop-and-frisk” policy in the context of claims of racial bias. Journal of the American Statistical Association.
Nation Magazine. (2012, October 9). “The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy”. [YouTube] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rWtDMPaRD8
Ruderman W. (2012). For Women in Street Stops, Deeper Humiliation. The New York Times, 6 Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/nyregion/for-women-in-street-stops-deeper-humiliation.html