by James C. Sherlock
The print edition of The Virginian-Pilot today ran the story we commented on yesterday on the surge in gun violence killing children in Norfolk. The headline in the online version:
Nearly a dozen children were shot in July in Norfolk. Communities are hurting, and activists want change.
None of the nearly 2,200 words of the article mentioned stop and frisk. The referenced “activists” oppose stop and frisk as unavoidably linked to racial profiling. Courts disagree.
But I suspect that The Virginian-Pilot considers it off limits to even bring up.
It is one of the most fundamental policing techniques for reducing gun violence. In 2011, the NYPD arrested 82,286 persons as a result of stop and frisk encounters. Mike Bloomberg was mayor. The use of stop and frisk has plummeted since then under Mayor DeBlasio.
Those concerned with urban violence have a right to be concerned. The past few years of political turmoil over policing has resulted in increasing shortages of officers and reductions in street policing. The direct results: more guns on the street, more killings of the innocent.
Communities like Norfolk need both their street cops and stop and frisk back.
From Cornell Law School
A stop-and-frisk refers to a brief non-intrusive police stop of a suspect. The Fourth Amendment requires that before stopping the suspect, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed by the suspect. If the police reasonably suspect that the suspect is armed and dangerous, the police may frisk the suspect, meaning that the police will give a quick pat-down of the suspect’s outer clothing. The frisk is also called a Terry Stop, derived from the Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Terry held that a stop-and-frisk must comply with the Fourth Amendment, meaning that the stop-and-frisk cannot be unreasonable. According to the Terry court, a reasonable stop-and-frisk is one “in which a reasonably prudent officer is warranted in the circumstances of a given case in believing that his safety or that of others is endangered, he may make a reasonable search for weapons of the person believed by him to be armed and dangerous.”
So, stop and frisk is constitutional. Courts have found several police departments guilty of using it unconstitutionally, but the technique itself passes constitutional muster.
We need to put cops back on the streets and restore stop and frisk to its proper place in police procedure to help those that “activists” have abandoned to criminals.
And of course hold, prosecute and imprison the gun toting criminals they arrest.