Last Updated 29 Dec 2016

Living in a Stop and Frisk World

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Living in a Stop and Frisk World Today around 1,400 citizens in New York City will have their constitutional rights violated through an unlawful search. The legal term for the controversial search is stop and frisk. The New York Police Department continues to pressure its officers to stop and frisk citizens, and these situations are happening at an alarmingly increasing rate. For the New York Police Department, it seems to be a game of numbers as they continue to force their officers to conduct stop and frisks through quotas (Gangi).

While New York City has seen a decrease in crime over Mayor Bloomberg's term, it is difficult to directly correlate the stop and frisk policy with these decreases. This unlawful practice needs to stop as it is a controversial practice that many people believe is a direct violation of the human rights inherent for citizens. Furthermore, it could turn New York City into a police state. If an officer does not fill his monthly quota of stops, summons or arrests, he is subject to discipline (Gangi). Often, this discipline will leave a unsettling paper trail behind the officer and prevent them from being able to move up in the ranking.

This commonality has been explained by many New York Police Department officers confidentially in, “The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk. ” Last year, nearly 686,000 people were stopped on the street; a startling increase from only 97,000 in 2002. This amounts to a 600% increase in stops in less than ten years, and searches will continue to increase as the police department tries to keep these numbers up every year (Gangi). Factually speaking, the number has increased every single year since Mayor Bloomberg took office (Long).

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Crime is down, but can it accurately be attributed to an increase of stop and frisks? Stop and frisk can not be directly and certainly not solely attributed to the decrease of crime. Additionally, stop and frisk is highly subject to racial profiling. Both Tuttle of TheNation. com and Lieberman of New York Civil Liberties Union agree that the stop and frisk program is a waste of resources, explaining its high failure rate: “the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program continues to have a 90 percent failure rate. It remains a tremendous waste of resources, sows mistrust between police and he communities they serve, and routinely violates fundamental rights. (Zelon)” These are key reasons why New York City is the only large metropolis using stop and frisk as their main crime deterrent. It is an aggressive practice that ruins the relationship between the community and police department (Gangi). Ruthless practices such as stop and frisk are alienating the minority communities and terrorizing the youth. Police have admitted to targeting areas where crime is highest, but the stop and frisk approach ruins any opportunity for help from the community directly.

These officers are stationed in parts of New York City that they are disconnected from outside of work. The community knows their area best, yet the officers garner little respect amongst the community. When a community member sees something, they are less likely to say anything to the abusive New York Police Department (Eterno). Furthermore, this puts the officers in much more danger and results in a much more aggressive and assertive force as a result. Not to mention, community members are more willing to follow the law if they believe the system is fair and equal.

Sociologist Tom Tyler’s research on this matter has concluded that people often obey laws in which they consider fair and legitimate; these stop and frisk police encounters are seens as unfair and racial (Braid). Community policing is a key aspect to crime fighting, and both Washington and Los Angeles have made it a main focus of their crime stopping strategy. From 2002 to 2012, New York City has had a 12% decrease in murders annually, and during the same period, Washington saw a 43% decrease and Los Angeles had a 50% decrease in murders.

Both cities have taken a less aggressive approach and focused on a less aggressive community driven strategy. Unlike New York City, these cities focus on building up communities and targeting key violent factors (Gangi). Being apart of the community as a police officer lets you work with community members living within the area and target the direct source of violence and crime. Truants within the community are at the highest risk of becoming juvenile offenders. With such hatred from the ommunity, the police department does not get information or leads about these truants until they’re in police hands for committing a crime . Not to mention, these communities become so violent due to only 2 or 3% of the population (Baird). Additionally, as the officers continue to press the streets, they are unable to work with the communities and violence ensues once again. Breaking these community lines is a waste of resources and is costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

This policy is not only harming and scaring our youth, but it’s estimated that for every 100,000 stops it costs the taxpayers of New York 10 million dollars (Howell). Last year, New York City and the New York Police Department stopped over 650,000 people and accumulated hundreds of lawsuits for its racial and aggressive tactics (Tuttle). Under the law, suspects must appear to be committing a crime or about to commit a crime. Unfortunately, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin has uncovered “overwhelming evidence that there in fact exists a centralized stop and frisk program that has led to thousands of unlawful stops. Eterno)” Thousands of stops being performed unlawfully will turn into suits against the City of New York. Taxpayers do not want to pay for a program that is constitutionally illegal, has an extremely high failure rate and publicly targets minorities. Since New York City is the largest city in the United States, the police department should be a role model for other cities. Instead, the New York Police Department actively practices racial profiling, working against communities rather than in conjunction with them.

At first, the aggressive stop and frisk program lowered illegal guns on the street. More recently, however, Mayor Bloomberg has taken it too far by turning the program into a regulated, quota-driven exercise that has effectively used racial profiling and intimidation as a scare tactic against minorities. If New York City is to be proactive in lowering its crime rate, it ought to focus on building communities, endorsing community leaders, and no longer allowing its Police Department to engage in the controversial stop and frisk program.

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