In 2011, nearly 700,000 people were stopped by the New York Police Department under the controversial tactic known as stop and frisk. Two years later, a judge ruled the city’s use of the program violated the Constitution because it was a form of racial profiling. The ruling led to steep decline in the use of stop and frisk by the NYPD.
Today on Think, Krys Boyd talked about the practice with Michael D. White, a criminal justice professor at Arizona State University. He is the co-author of “Stop and Frisk: The Use and Abuse of a Controversial Policing Tactic.”
The KERA Interview
Michael D. White on ...
… how stop and frisk works:
“The police officer observes something that he or she believes is suspicious and indicative of a crime. It has to be something that the officer can articulate, something specific that he or she can point to and then that leads to the onset of the stop and frisk. There’s the possibility that the officer was incorrect - that what he or she witnessed was in fact not indicative of criminal activity. The citizen was engaged in normal, non-criminal behavior, and at that point the citizen is free to go.
… how it feels to be stopped and frisked:
“Many of us have experienced a formal encounter with a police officer. Most typically that would be you get pulled over for some sort of moving violation in your car, you’re on the side of the road for five, 15, 20 minutes, something like that, and maybe you get a ticket, maybe you don’t, and you’re on your way. That’s very different from the experience that many have with stop and frisk. It is a temporary deprivation of your liberty. You are not free to leave, and at least in New York City, at least half of the stops also resulted in a frisk. It’s a very intrusive thing.”
… the problem with stop and frisk:
“Many individuals are stopped multiple times. The impact that that has on your perceptions of police, your willingness to call the police if you are the victim of a crime, your willingness to help the police if you have information about a crime, is tremendously compromised. It goes to something we call police legitimacy. It’s been one of the main concerns with mass stop and frisk programs - it results in compromised police legitimacy in the neighborhoods where it’s used and overused. Police rely tremendously on citizens for assistance, for information about crime. And when police legitimacy is compromised, you lose that connection to the neighborhood, to the people who have information, to the people that you serve, and that’s a travesty.”