Stop-and-Frisk Research Paper

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Stop-and-Frisk: Cleaning up the Streets, or Racial Profiling at its Finest?

Taryn Konkler

Introduction to Law Enforcement

Professor Michael Glendon

Imagine innocently walking down the street in a city you’ve lived in your whole life, when all of a sudden you hear the dreaded “woop woop” and see those flashing red and blue lights. The police. They interrogate you, ask your whereabouts, and finally, they “frisk” you. Of course, they find nothing; they rarely do when they search people. Although it’s wrong and demoralizing, you know it’s something you’ll have to get used to as an African American living in New York City.

The stop-and-frisk was implemented after the Terry v. Ohio case, which ruled that stopping or detaining a person due to reasonable suspicion, but not enough probable cause to make an arrest, was constitutional. After the person is stopped, if the officer has reasonable suspicion, and not just a hunch, that the person has a weapon, then they can pat down or frisk the suspect.

Although the stop-and-frisk may seem like a great procedure and that it may keep the streets safer, there are downfalls to it. The policy was created to keep guns off the street and drop crime rates throughout the cities; however it has often been rumored to be unreasonably racist, and target only the minorities. Furthermore, saying it has made streets safer is debatable, and if it has is it at the expense of another person’s rights? According to NYPD data reports in 2011 684,330 stops were conducted in New York, which is an increase by 524,873 since the year 2003 and they have only found an addition 176 guns per year. With those numbers, one would hope that the number of additional weapons obtained would be significantly higher.

On the subject of racial profiling, minorities make up 53% of city population, yet the make up a shocking 90% of stop-and-frisks. New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director, Donna Lieberman...
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