New York City diligently tracks the number of “stop and frisks” its officers do on a daily basis. So far this year, these stops are up more than 18% from this time last year according to the New York Times. Interestingly but not surprisingly these stops were done on a disproportionate number of minorities, causing some eyebrow raising from civil liberties groups.
A “stop and frisk” is when an officer stops, perhaps questions, and pats down, or searches someone on the street. These are done as a preventative measure under many different circumstances. Some people feel that these stops are overused and abused while others believe them to be completely effective in controlling and preventing criminal activity.
Because of the controversy and questions around these types of stops, three precincts are participating in a pilot program. The program involves officers handing out cards to people explaining why they might be stopped and frisked. In addition, the officers in these test precincts are required to justify their stops.
The police state any racial disparities can be simply explained because they are stopping and frisking people proportionately to what victims report are the suspects in criminal activities. Civil liberty groups argue that racial disparities cannot be explained away so easily and show a long standing bias in police work.
Whatever the reasons, stop and frisks have been a part of the police beat for decades. Police claims they help keep firearms off the streets and also serve as a deterrent to potential criminals. If you have ever been stopped and frisked, your opinion may differ.
Being searched by the police can be a humbling experience, particularly when you did nothing wrong and don’t understand their reasoning. Sometimes, however, the police will find controlled substances or firearms, leading to an arrest and criminal charges.
Criminal charges stemming from stops and frisks happen and are no less serious than any other criminal charges. If you are facing charges now and need assistance with your case, contact me so we can discuss what happened and where to go from here.