Strike One Against the Stop and Frisk Policy

By: Daniel Nardini

                          Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary The City of New York will file an appeal on their policy of a type of search of suspects called “stop and frisk” in a U.S. district court. A federal judge had ruled that this procedure was not only unconstitutional but also discriminatory against African Americans and against Latinos. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes that this policy is preventing crime from occurring. Leading civil rights activists, organizations (such as the American Civil Liberties Union), and state politicians believe that this policy has really done nothing to stop crime and has disproportionately targeted African Americans and Latinos.
                            Three things stand out about this policy that I do not like. Obviously the first is that it is disproportionately used against African Americans and Latinos by the New York City police. This has been the experience of so many New York City residents, and the sheer percentage of those targeted speaks for itself. Eighty percent of those stopped by this policy were African American and Latino. The New York City police had stopped over 200,000 people with this policy between 2004 to 2011. One of the results of this policy is now a deep distrust for the policy between the African American, Latino, and even immigrant communities in New York City.
                              Second, this policy has yielded poor results. Only ten percent of all those stopped and frisked have led to an arrest, and only a fraction of these have led to police finding weapons and therefore filing weapons charges. No amount of touting that this is an “effective program” can justify these poor results. The third and most convincing reason why stop and frisk should be discontinued is that it truly violates the U.S. Constitution. Regardless whether those stopped and risked are African American, Latino, immigrant or white non-Hispanic, the policy automatically assumes guilt. This point is important. The U.S. Constitution makes it very clear that individuals, regardless of who or what they are, have the inalienable right to privacy of their person, and protection of their rights under the law. Stop and frisk negates all this by letting police have unlimited powers to search and seize whatever they want without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion.
                             If this is allowed to stand in New York City, then this policy can and will eventually be used in other major cities. From there it could become the law of the land. This type of law would not only change things for so many racial and ethnic minorities, but the very way we live and how police can act. This would put us into the same category as countries like Russia and China where police can demand papers anytime they like without reason or warrant. I do not wish to live in a country like that. Yes, stop and frisk might stop some crime, but in this case the cure is far, far worse than the disease. I do not want to live in a locale or country where stop and frisk is the rule.

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