Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump may have stirred the pot to the boiling point in the African-American community with recent rhetoric advancing the controversial Stop and Frisk policing policy as a primary crime deterrent for America’s inner-cities.
In this Sept. 26, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
At the first of three televised presidential debates that aired this week, Trump reaffirmed his staunch “Law and Order” public safety platform featuring the provocative Stop and Frisk policy. Trump first announced his support for ramping up Stop and Frisk in urban inner-city areas at a recent Town Hall meeting televised by Fox News.
Trump said the Stop and Frisk policy should be implemented in cities such as Chicago that he referred to as “places where African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell. You walk down the street and get shot.”
During the presidential debate, Trump referred to the “great job” done by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani in implementing and maintaining the Stop and Frisk policy in New York City for decades. Trump echoed Giuliani and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s claims that Stop and Frisk was responsible for reducing crime in NYC.
Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential nominee, focused on the need to restore trust between the African-American community and law enforcement and deal with root problems that interfere with effective law enforcement.
“I believe in community policing,” Clinton said. “We’ve got to address the systemic racism in our justice system,” she said.
Clinton pledged that if she became President, her first budget would contain funding to train police officers on “how to deal with implicit bias,” she said. Clinton also emphasized the need to reduce gun violence through legislation that bans the purchase of guns for people on the FBI’s “no fly” list.
Stop and Frisk was a major strategy used by the New York City Police Department from the 1990’s until 2013, allowing police to engage in limited stops of people deemed as “suspicious” by law enforcement. The Stop and Frisk search allows officers to pat down a suspect’s outer garments and pursue questioning in an attempt to confiscate illegal guns and other weapons that might be used in criminal activity. The concept of Stop and Frisk has been used in various police jurisdictions, primarily New York City, since the 1960’s.
Stop and Frisk has always been a controversial policing tactic and was first reviewed before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968 in Terry v. Ohio where the policy passed a fourth amendment test of reasonableness. In 2013, Federal District Court judge Shira Scheindlin determined Stop and Frisk amounted to “indirect racial profiling.”
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg defied and sought to appeal Scheindlin’s ruling, but four months later when Democratic candidate Bill DeBlasio became mayor in January 2014, the policy officially ended.
University of Baltimore Law Professor J. Amy Dillard said Stop and Frisk is only constitutional within a limited framework. Advocates of the policy have abused it in practice. “The frisk of the outer clothing is permissible only when an officer engaged in a Terry stop has a “reasonable belief” that the suspect is presently armed and dangerous,” she told the AFRO.
“There is no such thing as a constitutional “stop-n-frisk” outside of this context unless the entire procedure meets to requirements for a short-term regulatory investigation, like a DUI checkpoint” Dillard emphasized.
Communities of color in New York and across the nation vigorously oppose Stop and Frisk. Statistics consistently point to the disproportionate number of Black and Hispanics targeted by police through the policy. Baltimore Police, who also used the practice, distanced themselves from the name “Stop and Frisk” intentionally in 2013. Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said that with the negative connotation of Stop and Frisk in New York, it would not be feasible to continue the practice in Baltimore.
Baltimore City Police have recently implemented a new use of force policy this summer that emphasizes de-escalation of conflict and requires police officers to adhere to reporting guidelines in justifying three distinct levels of force in resolving incidents. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced the new policy in July, just a month before the US Justice Department issued its damning 164-page report after a year-long investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department.