We Know That Stop-and-Frisk is All Kinds of Horrible: So Why Is it Expanding Nationwide?

"I was going to the store for my mother. And then when I came out the building I see my uncle and he's coming from the way I'm going and we walk back to the store. And they [the police] just pulled up and hopped out and tried to pull up and take us. So I'm like whoa, too much is happening."

That quote is just one of many from a recent Vera Institute of Justice study that expresses the combination of fear, shock, and alienation experienced by young men and women who have been affected by the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk policy. The study, "Coming of Age with Stop and Frisk: Experiences, Self-Perceptions, and Public Safety Implications," released last Thursday, examines the experiences of those growing up in the neighborhoods in New York City where people are most likely to be stopped. The study surveyed over 500 young adults and conducted in-depth interviews nearly 50 more, and paints a rich picture of what actually happens during stops, and why this matters for the safety of the most heavily policed communities. [Full disclosure: I assisted with data collection for the project while at the Vera Institute].

The researchers found that the effect of Stop and Frisk on police-community relations is devastating: With each time a person is stopped, "respondents are eight percent less likely to report a future violent crime against them to the police," [emphasis in original], and nearly 60 percent responded that they would not feel comfortable asking a police officer for help if they were in trouble. Such findings complicate the already contested notion that stop and frisk makes the streets safer from violent crime, especially to the extent that "safety" is measured through crime reporting.

Given the study's accounts of what actually happens during stops, this shouldn't be surprising: nearly half of respondents reported that officers "threatened them and/or used physical force against them." Twenty-five percent reported that police officers displayed a weapon, and less than a third reported ever being informed of the reason for their stop. Such practices are likely to lead to the pervasive distrust of the police that one respondent aptly encapsulated when asked if he would ever call the police: "I don't know, honestly I feel that if I call the police they'll either come to late or they won't do what they're there to do."

In other ways, the report strengthened our understanding of what's already known about Stop-and-Frisk: 85 percent of respondents have never had any illegal items found on them during stops (a number likely underrepresenting the percentage for all stops, since a majority of such individuals have been stopped multiple times), and a majority believe they were treated worse because of their race or ethnicity (over 90 percent of respondents identified as people of color).

Unfortunately, the practice seems to be expanding nationwide. Last month, Mayor Bloomberg immediately appealed a Federal judge's ruling in cases brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, that Stop-and-Frisk is unconstitutional. The Detroit Police Department recently hired the Bratton Group and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research—two think tanks that helped construct New York's Stop and Frisk policy and train NYPD officers—as consultants to help construct their very own stop and frisk policy. Former LAPD and NYPD commissioner William Bratton, has claimed that police departments that don't use some form of stop and frisk are "doomed." Last year, Bratton was hired as a consultant for the Oakland Police Department.

The ACLU opposes Stop-and-Frisk as an infringement on civil liberties, a detriment to community-police relations, and as a component of the school to prison pipeline, the national phenomenon of overly punitive discipline and police involvement that compromises the education and future of young men and women of color. This is why we remain in active litigation against the NYPD over the policies and practices of their School Safety Division, working to ensure that New York's public school students are free from unwarranted searches and seizures at school. We are also litigating against unlawful stops, searches and seizures for the purposes of gang documentation through Winston et al. vs. Salt Lake City Police Department, et al. This case is a proposed class action lawsuit representing students at risk of being entered in to a "gang database," which subjects them to elevated police scrutiny and suspicion. It was filed in response to a 2010 police operation at a Salt Lake City high school in which dozens of students were questioned, searched and detained during school hours.

Together, these efforts represent our demand that both schools and police departments are properly held accountable for violating the rights of their students most in need of extra supports. We hope that such accountability can be a meaningful first step to healing much distressed police-community relations, both in the New York neighborhoods studied in the Vera report, and across the country.

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this will lead to civil war............


only good cop is a dead cop

Steve Fake

Correction: the groups are the Bratton Group and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research - not the Brattle Group and the Manhattan Group


so terrible...


"Only good cop is a dead cop" .... Civil War .... are you two fucking that ignorant. A civil war? Do you even know what a civil war is or what it takes to start one? Are you think it will be whites versus the minority? If whoever you are is planning on starting this, the military will not look at it as a racial issue but a threat to national security and destroy you.

Only good cop is a dead cop? Sounds like you have screwed up a few too many times and have been through the system. You must be a really tough guy behind your keyboard to say that. I know somewhere in your thick skull you know that there are plenty of good police officers; arguably more good than not. Dead cop.. fucking asshole. Solve your problems with violence. Really solid. You probably haven't even educated enough to realize why things are happening. Take a sociology course.


Civil War? Are you joking? A civil war would be crushed by the national guard, and I'm sure you would call it overt racism.

"only good cop is a dead cop," I pray that you are hurt in a scenario where you needed the police. Actually, I hope you are right about to be killed and a police officer saves your life. I would love to see what you would say then... better yet, a white police officer.

You two need to think before you type, it's pretty easy to feel big behind a keyboard.


Even my friend dislikes stop-and-frisk and he IS a police officer. He thinks the New York Police have been wrong the whole time they've been doing it and that the people who are bringing it to attention in a way that can accomplish getting something done to stop it are right to be doing it.

Maybe it's because he's also a minority officer (he's Latino), but he's always had a problem with stop-and-frisk and officers who abuse their power. Although he's been accused of the same thing and lumped in with all the other lug nuts who abuse their powers of discretion.


Gimme a break! You mean DOOMberg, as people in New York who can't stand him call him, made an appeal?
The poor baby. I guess it was just too much for him to come across a situation in which he DIDN'T have all the control and COULDN'T throw the fact in everyone's face.
What a load of hooey.

There's almost nothing good about that man, and I don't care if he DOES work with gun safety. With friends like him nobody will need enemies, and I've told people for years that NYPD is basically no good. I got furious when the entire nation started wearing around NYPD shirts, hats and everything else after September 11, at which time NYPD did no more than anybody else on the case and probably did even less b/c they have a mostly animosity-type relationship with the fire department that they refused to admit when the guy gathering information for a book he was writing asked about the relations between FDNY and NYPD.
Maybe now people will believe me, but they've BEEN that way for years on end even before 2001 came rolling along and handed them 15 minutes of fame as it were.
I'm not the least bit surprised to hear of more crap like this and I'm also unfazed that the mayor has a hand in it, deciding to be a part of the problem instead of the solution.


It's like all animals are equal , but some more then other's when it comes to Civil wrongs and Human right's in this country !! there only seems to be public out cry when Blacks are Victim of this. I only hear Black and Hispanic attached To Stop and Frisk
it's a that Whites and even Non Black Minorities in many cases are denied certain social services and Human right's in this country.
but yet When the person being stopped and Frisked is White no one seems to give a say anything. to hell with all the Bs statistics and Marxist angles it has happened To every man in my family and although we Tan nice don't have a drop of Black ancestry .
I was Just stopped and Frisked By 4 Black Coward Pigs on my way to the corner store to buy a red bull in a predominately White Area. I do not fit the description of the majority of my neighbors although my style is not way out there I have my own unique look and dress, way more tattoos then most of the dude's in my hood and you can tell that I'm Employed, well nourished and clean. I don't hang out on the street corner , have people coming and going and pretty much keep to myself, so when 4 Black dude's in plain cloth's jump out of a unmarked car asking me what's up My initial thought is I'm going to have to punch my way out of this. They asked me for my Id , so I asked them for their Id . They flashed shield's really quick and I could tell by how they where acting like cowards they where cops afraid a 5''11 200lb guy would thrown down on them and not some dude's looking for beef. I showed them my Id let them riffle through my pocket's answered some of their 1001 questions then told them Wtf it's ok to stop and frisk White people?
the one cop smirked. I didn't feel this time they came from a place of racial undertone's just some pig's trying to make a collar . a Few Years Back I was sitting in the Car with my ex girlfriend across from her House(I wore out my welcome with her old man by that point) This was in the Bronx I also worked in the Bronx at that time and was coming from work in my uniform with my name on it legally parked eating bread pudding with my girlfriend at the time when the Cops ran up on us searched us and the car and put us in handcuff's My girl was on a methadone program and had some empty bottles from her program with no name on it .needless to say this was majority Black cops in a majority Black and Hispanic area and they treated me as if I didn't belong in that area and I felt their hatred towards me. Both me and my girl where arrested and charged with possession in the 7th although she got out that night and was treated a little better by the cops while I stayed in 32 hours. They said cause I have a common last name(Martine-Martinez) and I thought I might be a guy with immigration warrant . Right I think it was cause of the color of my Skin and no other Reason. Although my Ex wasn't African American she had a little soul in her and despite us both having ''Hispanic surnames in situations Like that she is Black and I'm White!
another time we where stopped and had Guns to our heads while driving through Harlem by white cops from the Sub herbs asking why we where driving through there? Seriously. That time we where Both a couple of prom night White kids to the Cops. One time in 2006 I was working 4-12 got off the train at 1am in uniform bought a sandwich , soda and pack of smokes when some Young White guys came up a one way street and Jumped out on me. I thought they wanted to roll me Non of these Times was I doing anything wrong. There where countless other times I got stopped By cops . I really don't need to be embraced in front of my neighbor's walking their dogs and have them think that I'm up to something no good. I'm a middle aged working Class Guy who minds his business who happens to be White

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