Stop, Frisk, Repeat?
“Cities Interested in Crime Reduction Should Use Focused Deterrence, Not Stop-and-Frisk.”
By Juwan Z. Bennett
8.14.13: National – (Crime/Politics): Two (2) days ago a New York federal Judge established a legal precedent that should empower minorities across the country to fight against the worst form of legal racial profiling in America.
In a class-action lawsuit on Monday, U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin said that the stop-and-frisk policy violated citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Judge Scheindlin also stated that police made at least 200,000 stops from 2004 to June 2012 without reasonable suspicion. In addition, during that time period it was reported that “more than 80% of those stops-and-frisks involved Blacks or Hispanics.”
In a Press Conference yesterday the three-term Mayor criticized Judge Scheindlin for being biased against police, adding “she made it clear she was not interested in the crime reductions” and that she “ignored the real world realities of crime.”
So you might be asking yourself: How Does This Effect Local Philadelphians? Why does this apply to me? Well I’m glad you asked!
The “stop and frisk” tactic employed in 2008 by Mayor Michael Nutter – as part of crime reduction and public safety efforts to combat the prolific gun violence in Philadelphia – has shown itself to be racially biased as well and non-effective.
In the last few years a massive number of stops were made without legal cause and minimal arrests resulted from the stops. Over the past two years since stop-and-frisk was initiated, the number of those being unreasonably racially profiled nearly doubled to more than 250,000; 72.2% of which involved African-Americans; guns were only seized in only about 1 in 1,000 stops.
Today, minorities are stopped by police officers for no other reason than the color of their skin or that they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Just two (2) years ago, a class-action suit was filed by The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, alleging that the searches violated the rights of blacks and Latinos who had done nothing wrong. The ACLU sued on behalf of eight(8) men who were subjected to illegal searches. A settlement was made totaling more than $115,000 to seven (7) of the plaintiffs, plus legal costs.
So what’s the call to action…what can be done well? I’m glad you asked again.
Despite Philadelphia’s efforts to improve the stop and frisk policy – by adopting new training protocols and putting in place an electronic database to track the legality of stops – my proposed solution is to get rid of stop and frisk all together and implement “focused deterrence,” a strategy created by criminologist David M. Kennedy.
Rather than sweeping through and stopping large numbers of innocent minorities, focused deterrence allows the police to build collaborative relationships with residents, promising greater responsiveness if they promote positive cultural values that do not permit violence in their communities.
Focused Deterrence has been proven to work in other big cities were violence has been prolific. It was responsible for the decrease in Boston’s homicide rate during the 1990s. Also in 2004, David Kennedy successfully incorporated focused deterrence to combat violent open-air drug markets in the West End neighborhood of High Point, North Carolina.
Cities interested in crime reduction should consider Kenndy’s focused deterrence, not stop-and-frisk.
Juwan Z. Bennett is an award-winning scholar enrolled at Temple University. Bennett currently double majors in criminal justice and sociology.
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