Tagged: stop and frisk

Stop and Frisk Event at Pace Law School

Criminal Justice Society, a student organization at Pace, is proud to present an event entitled, “Stop and Frisk.” Join us on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6:00-8:00 PM in Preston Hall, in the Tudor Room on the Pace Law School campus in White Plains for a discussion about the frequently debated police practice of STOP AND FRISK.

Guest speakers include: Prof. Randolph McLaughlin, Attorney Mayo Barlett, Police Officer David Rullo, and Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute and the City Journal.

For more information, please contact Annmarie Stepancic at astepancic@law.pace.edu.

CJS Event: Stop and Frisk Discussion

NYPD Stop and Frisk Practice Held Unconstitutional

On Monday, August 12, 2013, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin held that the NYPD’s stop and frisk practice was unconstitutional.  Citing the large percentage of stops that resulted in no further legal action, Judge Scheindlin stated that police officers diluted the legal standard necessary to conduct a stop and frisk and, therefore, detained individuals illegally.

Moving Toward a Solution: Monitoring the NYPD

On two separate occasions last month it was suggested that a court-appointed entity monitor the actions of the New York Police Department. In the first instance, the U.S. Justice Department suggested a monitor to address the racial implementation of stop and frisk procedures by select NYPD officers. The U.S. Justice Department announced that

it would support a decision by the judge to appoint a monitor to ensure compliance with any reform of police practices ordered by [the judge].

In the second instance, Civil Rights Groups  suggested a monitor of the NYPD’s Muslim Surveillance Program, an intelligence program designed to foil terrorist plots. Members of the Muslim community argue that the Surveillance Program hinders their constitutional right to worship.

The New York City Council responded to the call for an NYPD monitor by

approv[ing] some of the most sweeping plans in years to impose new oversight over the NYPD.

The two bills passed recently

expand the definition of racial profiling and… establish an inspector general with subpoena power to recommend changes to the NYPD’s policies and practices.

Those in favor of the NYPD monitor contend that the monitor will regulate police procedures to prevent, or at the very least diminish, racial and religious discrimination by the NYPD. Those against the NYPD monitor, most notably Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commission Ray Kelly, argue that a monitor would prevent police officers from doing their jobs effectively because it would cause hesitation among police officers in carrying out procedures vital to fighting crime.

Whether monitoring the NYPD is the right approach remains to be seen. However, the mere suggestion of an NYPD monitor indicates that society is moving toward a solution to a problem that has hindered the NYPD and society for decades.

Update on Stop and Frisk

In case anyone missed the New York Daily News article on Wednesday,  January 23, 2013, Judge Shira Scheindlin acquiesced to the NYC lawyers’ request to allow police maintain  “stop and frisk” procedures outside “Clean Halls Buildings” until the police can conduct new training. To read the complete story, click here.

Stop and Frisk the Statistics

BY: Annmarie Stepancic

Between 2010 and 2012, the NYPD reported 1,624,419 stops in New York City. Of those stops, slightly over 6%, or 101,688 stops, resulted in an arrest. Another 6% resulted in a summons. So – what do these statistics mean? Well, on the one hand, these statistics seem to suggest an effort to reduce the crime rate, particularly in high crime areas. This is the interpretation we hear and read about in the news as we go about our day-to-day routines. On the other hand, these statistics suggest that the stop and frisk policy is ineffective. According to the NYPD data, stops do not yield any significant results approximately 88% of the time. We rarely, if ever, study this interpretation of the statistics. I would like to suggest that it is this interpretation – the 88% view – on which we as a society should focus our attention.

A few disclosures before I continue. I am in no way suggesting that the NYPD is wrong 88% of the time or that the entire stop and frisk policy should be eradicated. It is important to understand that not every stop and frisk will result in an arrest or summons, and I am not trying to suggest that it should. Moreover, in a post-9/11 world, it is imperative for our police officers – the men and women who vow to serve and protect us each day – to have the ability to stop and frisk any individual the officers reasonably suspect of criminal activity. However, I think and hope we can do better than futile stops 88% of the time.

I think the biggest reason stops are unsuccessful 88% of the time is because there is no clear standard for conducting a stop and frisk. In Terry v. Ohio, the Supreme Court established reasonable suspicion as the standard for a stop and frisk. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). According to the reasonable suspicion standard, a police officer may stop an individual that the police officer reasonably suspects has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. After an individual is stopped, the police officer may frisk the individual for police safety. But what exactly constitutes reasonable suspicion? The answer: your guess is as good as mine.

While recognizing the right against an unreasonable stop and frisk, the Warren Court failed to define the reasonable suspicion required, and subsequent congresses and legislatures have not done the job.  To date, scholars have helped by defining reasonable suspicion to include,  at a minimum, more than an individual’s hunch and to require specific facts that led the officer to reasonably believe that the individual has engaged will engage, or is engaging in criminal activity. These definitions, while helpful, still fall short in defining what exactly constitutes reasonable suspicion either for the courts or the police officer on the street. I understand that we live in a world of uncertainty, but that does not mean that we are to conduct our policing policies with the same uncertainty. The stakes – constitutional rights – are simply too high.

The constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of Americans are violated on an unprecedented scale because of illegal stops and frisks. A report published by the Center for Constitutional Rights in December 2012 found that

based on the information recorded on NYPD stop-and-frisk forms by police officers themselves, more than 95,000 stops lacked reasonable articulable suspicion and therefore violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Unconstitutional stops and frisks not only violate the constitutional rights of our fellow Americans, but also undercut the legitimacy of police officers. Illegal stops and frisks strain and, in many instances, destroy the very police-community relationships that could assist in the capture of the bad guys.

Related Readings:

Report Shows Stop and Frisk rights Violations Continue (By Center for Constitutional Rights, Dec. 2012).
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).
NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Practices: Unfair and Unjust (By Center for Constitutional Rights, 2012).
2011 NYPD Stop and Frisk Statistics (By Center for Constitutional Rights, 2011).
NYPD’s Stop, Question and Frisk Data (By NYPD, includes data for years 2003-2011).
Second Supplemental Report of Jeffrey Fagan, Ph.D.David Floyd v. City of New York, ___ F. Supp. 2d ___ (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 17, 2012) (No.: 08 Civ. 01034 (SAS)).