The Scars of Stop and Frisk: Racial Profiling?

Stop and Frisk is a program in New York city in which the New York City Police Department stop and question thousands and thousands of pedestrians annually, and frisk them for dangerous weapons and other contraband. About 684,000 people were stopped in 2011, most of them being African-American or Latino. Unknown-3 6.20.29 PMimages-2 6.20.33 PM

“The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known: The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are black and Latino.” The New York Civil Liberties Union website has plenty of information about the Stop and Frisk Campaign. Some data from this site shows that:

In 2012, police stopped the citizens of New York 532,911 times.

473,644 were totally innocent (89 percent).

284,229 were black (55 percent).

165,140 were Latino (32 percent).

50,366 were white (10 percent).

From this data we can see that it is obvious there is a bit of racial profiling going on here, whether it be accidental or not, it is happening and many of the people of New York want it to stop. Another table of Stop and Frisk data shoes that there is indeed more minorities being stopped than whites. 52% were African-American, 31% Hispanic, and only 10% Caucasian. This video from the New York Times website is a great source to hear from a victim himself. “The Scars of Stop and Frisk” is a short documentary film on New York’s stop-and-frisk policing focuses on Tyquan Brehon, a young man in Brooklyn who says he was stopped more than 60 times before age 18. images-5 6.20.29 PM

In my opinion, Stop and Frisk is wrong and right at the same time. I think it is wonderful for the Police Departments to be trying to constantly protect the citizens of New York, but I also believe that stopping and searching citizens randomly is wrong, unfair and unjust. One thing that makes this campaign so controversial is the fact that it is unconstitutional. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights and it prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Because of this amendment, many people argue that the Stop and Frisk campaign is unconstitutional and should therefore be eliminated.

Fourth AmendmentThe Fourth Amendment states that it is unlawful for citizens to be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures if there is not a probable cause, so, as a solution to this controversy, I believe that the New York City Police Department should have a probable cause to stop a citizen before actually stopping him or her. This way, by stating a probable cause to the suspect, there is less misunderstanding that so much racial profiling is involved. If people are given a reason as to why they are being stopped and searched, they will feel more comfortable that they are not being stopped and searched because of their race. Furthermore, there is factual evidence that a very small percent of the people that are topped annually by the NYPD are actually innocent. This chart from the New York Civil Liberties union shows that only a small portion of the suspects were a threat anyways, so, by having probable cause, the NYPD can refrain from pulling someone aside and wasting time. This data shows that “Only two percent of frisks resulted in a weapon found.” This means that only 1 in every 50 people were actually a threat to the public. By having a probable cause, the citizens of New York can be happy that there is less assumption of racial profiling and the New York City Police Department can be happy that it will save them time and trouble. Thanks for reading!     Jane Speaker

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