One rationale for continuing stop and frisk practices is that it is a viable, proactive, and productive way for law enforcement to combat crime. Personally, I beg to differ. In my opinion it’s like using a sledgehammer on a nail. You may get the desired result but what else are you smashing?
That’s how I feel about “Stop and Frisk”. We are well aware of the controversy surrounding the stop and frisk practices in New York City. There have been studies done, articles written, lawsuits filed, and issues debated yet this practice still continues. Other cities, Chicago for example, are now looking to use similar tactics as a means to reduce crime. In a Chicago Tribune article City Treasurer Stephanie D. Neely wrote:
"We have a choice between living with the uncertainty of random gun violence and an occasional random stop that helps the entire community reduce the threat of guns. Would we prefer to continue being held hostage by thugs? Or deal with the inconvenience of stop and frisk?"
Occasional random stops; held hostage by thugs; they have to do better than that. This is the same messaging used in New York City.
We also have New York City Commissioner Ray Kelly asking "Why leaders upset with ‘Stop And Frisk’ aren’t protesting violence instead". He further went on to say:
“The fact of the matter is that 96 percent of shooting victims are people of color, yet the community leaders are not speaking out about this. We’d like to hear from them,”
Statements like these are the reason why we must continue to fight against stop and frisk practices. The end does not justify the means. These tactics do more harm than good.
There are many organizations fighting the good fight. One of them is the Center for Constitutional Rights.
On Monday, Open Society Foundations published an article entitled "Putting NYPD’s Stop and Frisk on Trial":
Next Monday, the Center for Constitutional Rights will head to trial in our landmark case, Floyd et al. v. the City of New York, challenging the New York City Police Department’s practice of unconstitutional stops and frisks.
We have seen the statistics. We know these practices do not equate to a resounding “win” for law enforcement. The majority of the stops do not result in arrests. In New York City the police department's own statistics, show that stop and frisk predominately targets communities of color and low incomes.
It starts now, let's get this thing done.....
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.