Stop and frisk is the routine process when police officers stop a person randomly on the street for a search suspecting any criminal intentions. The debate on this policing strategy has received many diverse views. The players include the public, lawmakers, legal community, and the police. Proponents of the tactic believe that it is successful at reducing crime on the streets of cities and towns significantly. On the contrary, a section of the citizens and rights activists has disputed the alleged the success of the stop and frisk rule (Center for Constitutional Rights, 2012). They believe that the policy brings more harm than good to the community regarding the frequency of criminal activities. In fact, this type of search is undemocratic and oppressive to the values of free movement and equal treatment. This regulatory program should not be in the country because it increases unrest by violating the constitutional human rights, contributing to the racial discrimination, and creating a negative attitude towards the police department.
Supporters of the stop and frisk law rely on the argument that the regulation is productive because it protects citizens from impending terror and criminal acts. They suggest that this rule is the best criteria for informing security sources of dangers to bring the peaceful enjoyment of the right to life and safety. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director, James Comey, informs the U.S. House of Representatives that the directive is effective when used according to the parameters of the constitution (Rudovsky & Rosenthal, 2013). He affirms that the police officers guarantee the safety of the public by positioning themselves in several parts of the cities. However, the research by human rights group indicates that presence of the law enforcers on the streets does not reduce crime rates in towns (Center for Constitutional Rights, 2012). The police engage in discriminative inspections and, subsequently, provoke the residents into developing hateful feelings towards them and hence they experience an increase in illegal actions.
The belief of the founders of the nation on the importance of the liberty for individuals is a strong assertion that is not easy to discredit. They expressed their concerns in the Bill of Rights protecting the rights of all citizens in the country. The Fourth Amendment affirms that the rights of the people to be safe in their persons, papers, or houses shall be protected against unlawful search and seizure unless the police have confirmed a probable cause (U.S. Const., amend. IV). Therefore, the stop and frisk policy directly infringes the right of people under this clause by allowing police officers to invade their privacy and freedom of movement. It is morally wrong for a body that protects the Fourth Amendment to be the same entity that breaches its duties.
The Fourteenth Amendment, similarly, dictates that the laws should protect the rights of all the citizens (U.S. Const., amend. XIV). The stop and search principle contravenes the clauses in the Constitution by allowing the law enforcers to disobey the provisions. Not only does this rule violate the bill, but it is also ineffective regarding its operations around the areas where it operates. The New York Civil Liberties Union conducted a research based on data on the random search regulation provided by the New York Police Division (NYPD) (Coviello & Persico, 2013). The study was completed during the first three months of 2013 when 179,063 inspections took place. The result of the survey indicated that 89% of the searches were unsuccessful and the victims had no intentions of any criminal activities (Coviello & Persico, 2013). The study also indicated that the police officers who conducted the checks did not have any legitimate cause to exercise the inspections and, therefore, they disobeyed the rights of the citizens (Coviello & Persico, 2013).
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The equal protection of the rights and freedoms of all persons by law is a fundamental duty of the legislators and security providers. The stop and frisk policy, on the contrary, increases racial discrimination by the police officers. The majority of the people arrested during the random inspections are from the minority groups in the country (Simmons, 2014). The African American and Hispanic communities are the targets of law enforcers during the unsystematic security checks. Racial profiling is illegal in the United States of America, and it is in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment that provides equal protection of the laws for and by all the citizens (U.S. Const., amend. XIV). The section was added to the Constitution to ensure that there is no disparity in the enjoyment of the freedoms that the laws of the state guarantee. Therefore, the ethnic background of a civilian should not become oppression or disruption to his/ her routine activities.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) conducted a study that indicates that the stop and frisk rule in New York City targeted the most vulnerable population (Center for Constitutional Rights, 2012). The groups included the transgender, gay, immigrants, lesbians, religious minorities, low-income earners, and homeless people. The officers used the policy as a tool for harassing the marginal communities instead of facilitating their safety and peace in the neighborhood. Thus, conducting the illegal inspections is a punishable act. The research by CCR on racial profiling by the NYPD shows that a large number of people who were stopped and searched by the police hailed from the minority societies. The study examines that 52 percent of the frisked citizens belonged to the African American community, 31 percent were from the Latino, and only 10 percent came from the White society (Center for Constitutional Rights, 2012). The statistic is ironic because the population of New York City consists predominantly of Whites than African Americans or Hispanics (Center for Constitutional Rights, 2012).
In 2003, a Federal Judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, ruled that the stop and frisk policy introduced by the NYPD was not lawful, She stopped it until the Mayor would include the reforms in the law. During Floyd v. New York City, the judge declined to endorse the practices because they violated the 4th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution (Rudovsky & Rosenthal, 2013). She listed the changes to the program that she instructed the NYPD and County Hall representatives to implement so that there was no violation of any legal provisions. The verdict is a clear indication that the authorities did not support its competency in the law. None of the appeals against the ruling of the judge were successful, thus indicating that the proposers of the stop and frisk policy had weak and ineffective arguments to support their cause.
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The random inspection principle creates a negative relationship between the citizens and the law providers. There is increased police animosity in the areas where the stop and frisk program is applicable (Coviello & Persico, 2013). The presence of authorities in a neighborhood creates a hostile environment that makes the community members to live in a state of siege and fear. The marginalized groups that are the primary victims in police inspections encounter cruel persecution by the police officers conducting the procedures (Center for Constitutional Rights, 2012). In addition to the fear of being harassed, the public is in contempt of the authorities engaging in innocent fights with the law enforces (Simmons, 2014).
The Constitution is supreme, and it is the focal element of human rights protection in the country. The regulations which the Senate or city authority implement should correspond to the provisions of the highest law. The stop and frisk rule endangers the primary purpose of human freedom to protect and equally enjoy liberty. This principle violates individual rights, promotes racial discrimination, and creates animosity between the public and the police by increasing insecurity. Citizens should not sacrifice their legal privileges to enjoy legal protection from the state according to the Shira Scheindlins ruling in the judgment of Floyd v. New York City.