When you are stopped by a New York cop, what’s the attitude you’ll encounter? It could depend on the reason for the stop, the cop you are dealing with, or the color of your skin. This according to a report from the New York Times.
The NY Times asked New Yorkers what it was like to be the victim of a “stop and frisk” from the city’s finest. And they found dramatically different accounts. From super polite and almost apologetic, to accusing and forceful—the cops didn’t stick to any script and often had New Yorkers wondering what exactly it was they were being stopped for.
Police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is occurring, about to occurring, or have just occurred in order to detain someone. But NYPD officers use a variety of tactics to excuse their stopping anyone, nearly anywhere they want.
From saying the person looks like a suspect in a recent crime, or saying the neighborhood is a high crime area, the police have an “in” for asking prying questions and searching the civilian on the street.
Times reporters asked citizens five questions in an effort to get some kind of consensus about how the NYPD is conducting their controversial stop and frisks. Those questions included asking how and why the stop happened, what was said and how did the officer address you, and did the officer explain why they stopped you.
Some citizens say the officer who stopped them asked them to, “please come here,” using words like “sir,” and “thank you.” For others, however, the exchanges weren’t so polite. There is a big difference between being asked to do something and being told what to do. Many citizens are told by the cops to “come here,” and “shut up.”
“They’ll ask, ‘Where are you headed?’ When you’re African-American, you have to have a definite destination. Everyone else can just say, ‘Mind your own business,’” said Al Blount, a minister at a Harlem church.
He isn’t the only one who feels targeted because of race. Two teens interviewed by the Times say they were slammed up against a police car and frisk, told to “shut up,” and called “just immigrants.”
It is against the law for police to stop someone solely based on race. But if a black man robs a store, does that give the NYPD sufficient cause to stop every black man in a 20 block radius? Some officers seem to think so.
Whether you feel you were stopped because of how you look or if you know the charges against you are legitimate, you deserve fair treatment. Contact our offices today to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney.