Describe one argument that supports “stop and frisk” policies.
The greatest argument for allowing practices such as “stop and frisk” is law enforcement safety. In Terry v. Ohio (1968) the Court ruled that “when a police officer had a reasonable basis to believe that an individual was involved in criminal activity, the officer had the right to stop and “pat down” a suspect believed to pose an “immediate safety threat” without first obtaining a warrant” (Ivers, 2013). The important thing to remember is they must have a reasonable basis. I work in child welfare and similar standards exist when it comes to removing a child from their caregiver’s home either through an ex parte order or police protective custody. There must exist an eminent and reasonable belief that substantial, immediate harm is possible without immediate intervention by police. Law enforcement officers face a myriad of dangers daily so laws and practices that help mitigate those dangers certainly sound reasonable.
Describe one argument that opposes “stop and frisk” policies.
On the other hand, the practice of “stop and frisk” has proven to have a greater impact on certain demographics more than others raising concerns about racism and bias. According to the article assigned, the practice in New York has shown some disturbing trends, “approximately 85 percent of those stopped are Black and Latino, even though these two groups make up only 52 percent of the city’s population – which constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Center for Constitutional Rights, 2013). These figures are of substantial concern. At what point does safety override civil liberties and who makes that determination?
Explain which argument is the most constitutionally sound. Why?
This is a hard question for me and many others. My daughter’s best friend since middle school is now a police officer. She is like a child to me so I generally support any sort of practice that keep her safer in her dangerous job. However, I also have many friends of color and the thought of them being harassed for no reason beyond the color of their skin is also very upsetting to me. The Constitution guarantees the right from undo search and seizure so it would be easy to say that it is against “stop and frisk” except for the little for letter word “undo”. I don’t know that an officer’s right to life outweighs the rights of others to life and liberty based solely on what is written in the Constitution.
Center for Constitutional Rights. (2013, Aug. 12). Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al. Retrieved from http://ccrjustice.org/floyd
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Ivers, G. (2013). Constitutional law: An introduction. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/