The Criminal Justice Society at Pace Law School held a symposium last Tuesday (Oct. 22, 2014) on the future of stop and frisk in New York City. Prof. David Dorfman moderated, and the panelists were Prof. Randolph McLaughlin, of Pace Law School; Mayo Bartlett, a Pace alum and private criminal defense attorney in White Plains; Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute; and Police Officer David Rullo, a Pace student and a police officer in New Jersey.
The panelists began by debating the merits of Judge Scheindlin’s decision in Floyd, finding that the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices unconstitutional. The disagreement was not so much over the Judge’s holding as it was over the facts upon which it rested, with Ms. MacDonald asserting that some of the fact finding was not supported by the evidence. There was also disagreement about whether the Judge was correct in concluding that the racial breakdown of stop and frisk should reflect population demographics, as opposed to the demographics of who commits crimes.
Substantial discussion concerned the need for training police officers: Officer Rullo thought training on the constitutional dimensions of stop and frisk was inadequate and Ms. MacDonald thought the police should have training on how to treat people with respect. Ultimately, Ms. MacDonald raised a concern that hamstringing the police in stop and frisk would lead to more crime, while Mr. Bartlett and Prof. McLaughlin focused on how many innocent people are arrested under current stop and frisk practices. All of the panelists were concerned about the impact of stop and frisk – or of stopping the stop an d frisk policy – on the community.
The panelists also proposed solutions. Mr. Bartlett emphasized the need for incorporating police officers into the community. A reform of the stop and frisk policy based on police presence would foster community relationships that could help police officers deter crime.
With the NYC mayoral election looming, many people worry about whether the crime rate will rise after Floyd and with a new administration. Many people are debating whether we should reintroduce community policing and, if so, what the impact will be on the community.