Donald Trump on Wednesday called for the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing practice to be instituted nationwide as a means of combating violent crime in America’s inner cities. In a pre-taped interview on Fox News scheduled to air Wednesday night, Trump was asked by an audience member what he would do to address “violence in the black community” and “black-on-black crime.” Trump responded by proposing that “stop-and-frisk” policing, in which an officer is empowered to stop an individual and frisk them for weapons or any other illegal contraband, be adopted nationwide.
“I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically,” Trump told the questioner. “You understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see what’s going on here, I see what’s going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked. Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, so I think that could be one step you could do.”
From the New York Civil Liberties Union in 2012:
No research has ever proven the effectiveness of stop-and-frisk, and the small number of arrests, summonses, and guns recovered demonstrates that the practice is ineffective. Crime data also do not support the claim that New York City is safer because of the practice. While violent crimes fell 29 percent in New York City from 2001 to 2010, other large cities experienced larger violent crime declines without relying on stop and frisk abuses: 59 percent in Los Angeles, 56 percent in New Orleans, 49 percent in Dallas, and 37 percent in Baltimore.
Stop-and-Frisk abuses corrode trust between the police and communities, which makes everyone less safe. Don’t believe us? Then listen to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in 2000: “[A] large reservoir of good will was under construction when I left the Police Department in 1994. It was called community policing. But it was quickly abandoned for tough-sounding rhetoric and dubious stop-and-frisk tactics that sowed new seeds of community mistrust.”
From The Nation, also in 2012:
In theory stop-and-frisks, like arrests, are regulated by the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled in 1968 that police must have objective evidence providing “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity before they can forcibly stop a citizen, and they must have an independent basis for fearing the person is armed before they frisk him. That standard is lower than probable cause but more than a hunch: it requires objective, individualized suspicion–not racial stereotyping.
In practice, however, the vast majority of stop-and-frisks are never subjected to judicial review because most stops don’t lead to arrests. Thus, these encounters are not “policed” by courts the way arrests are. And, not surprisingly, when police officers–like anyone else–know they are not being watched, they are likely to cut corners. [Columbia law professor Jeff Fagan] found that in nearly a third of all stops, police records revealed either that the stops were unconstitutional or that officers did not provide sufficient information to establish that they were legal.
In New York, it appears, the tactic has been employed not, as the Supreme Court originally conceived it, to disrupt ongoing criminal activity but as a generalized deterrence strategy. NYPD officers stop and frisk hundreds of thousands of citizens each year not because they believe all of them are engaged in criminal activity but because they believe the prospect of such stops will dissuade people from carrying weapons. (Stop-and-frisks in New York discover guns in only about one of every 666 stops–or 0.15 percent; police say that’s because deterrence is working.) In short, it’s an informal means of gun control. But as with many such tactics, black and Latino men bear most of the burden.