Stop and Frisk Essay

Imagine you are walking down a block in New York City. When all of sudden you hear a loud siren; the cops. Lethal red and blue lights cast circles on the concrete around you. The police car stops and two officers get out of the car and prevent you from walking any further. They interrogate you and then they frisk you. Even though what you are experiencing is demoralizing, you realize that it is something that you would have become accustomed to because you are an African American living in New York City.Stop and frisk promotes institutionalized racism which negatively affects minorities living in New York City. Institutionalized racism is a form a racism that is structured into social and political institutions.These policies, practices or procedures discriminate directly or indirectly at a specific race. Members of minority groups are more likely to be stopped and frisked than any other race in New York City. (source?) The stop and frisk policy was implemented after the Supreme Court case of Terry vs. Ohio, which ruled that an officer can perform a search on a person without a warrant, if the officer suspects that the person may be armed or dangerous. (source?) This case paved the way to one of the most controversial police procedures in New York-stop and frisk. This practice was put into effect by the New York Police Department, which grants officers the authority to stop and search pedestrians if/when the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person may be a danger to the community.

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches. The amendment also states that no warrant shall be issued without a probable cause. The objective basis of the law is to conduct searches when there is enough evidence to back up the accusation or claim that is being made. Modern jurisprudence has given officers the incentive to conduct searches without a warrant. All an officer needs to conduct a search is reasonable suspicion that an individual may be a threat to a community. The stop and frisk policy not only violates a constitutional amendment, but is also promotes the use of generalizations and stereotypes. The New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy has profound effects on certain groups of people. People who are primarily affected by this policy are people of color, particularly Black and Hispanic men. According to the CCR analysis of stop and frisk data “race is a primary factor in determining who gets stopped by the NYPD”(The Human Impact).

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Most stop and frisk occurs in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, therefore “Black and Latino are significantly more likely to be stopped than white people” (The Human Impact). In 2010, 640 stops were conducted in Mott Haven, Bronx. A neighborhood where 72% of the residents are Hispanic and 42% of the residents are Black. In comparison to the Upper West Side in Manhattan , where 3 stops were conducted that same year. 66% of the residents are white and less than 20% are either Black or Hispanic. (New York Times).


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