The NYPD and "Reasonable Suspicion"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NYPD vehicle (ADL999/flickr)

Judges have overturned some convictions arising from the city's controversial stop-and-frisk program, saying NYPD officers didn't have the needed "reasonable suspicion" to stop and frisk the suspects. WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang looks at how individual officers make that call.


Ailsa Chang

Comments [29]


Anyone who lived in the hood and left knows full well that when criminals know they can get searched - they are not as brazen... forget all the semantics and histrionics.. I lived it and know. I also know that criminals use seemingly "law abiding citizens" to carry contraband and weapons (at a price) because they know they are less likely to get stopped. Let's get serious here..

Jul. 10 2012 10:03 PM

This discussion further illuminates the societal detrements of racial-profiling black/brown individuals [males]. The NYPD not only has a reputation of
stopping-and-frisking these individuals with unconstitutional and unwarranted searches-and-seizures, but these unconstitutional incursions very many times lead to the permanent abscondment of inalienable rights as granted by the Constitution of the United States (i.e. voting-rights). A one-tenth of one percent success-ratio (or failure-ratio) certainly begs of Bloomberg, Kelly, their underlings and policy-makers to put more serious thought to this issue. They must advocate for more effective, efficient and more salient methods of policing "high crime rate" areas without unabated profiling at the expense of the constitutional rights of individuals of color.
The future employment opportunities for most individuals netted by this policy is also negatively impacted. According to statistics these individuals are more times caught commiting relatively benign offenses under current policy than caught with serious offenses. Gainful employability is a necessity in NYC. Furthermore, this behavior, on part of the NYPD, further castigates black/brown males from the perview of other, non-black/brown NYC citizenery by further villifiying the "being and essence" of black/brown individuals in an already highly racialized society; individuals become criminalized on-sight for being black/brown whatever the occasion. In short, the numbers are not in the least bit convincing.
In widening the scope of this position, consider that the NYPD also has a long-standing reputation of excising excessive deadly force against black/brown individuals [males] to such effect that it has seemingly become a matter policy for police officers to enact "shoot-now-question-later" scenarios against perceived, or existential-threats in the NYC metropolitan area. Most realize that policing is a serious and dangerous profession that requires a great degree of skill and exacting determination. But, to those unwarrantedly impacted by SNF, these policies amount to fortifying a bureaucratically-sanctioned police-state, in a perhaps more unsavory terms, an aparteid-state. The NYPD culture and training must be amended so that all NYC citizens feel safe, protected and served. For the sake of society, state and peace of mind, policy-makers and enforcers must make better strides to maintain and protect the state and the inalienable rights of all.

Jul. 10 2012 12:49 PM
bernie from bklyn

we will never get the guns off the streets of nyc until there is action on a national level.....the yahoos who don't live in any of our cities think that "obama is gonna take our guns away" and they represent a huge part of the population of this ignorant country, sad to say. they lobby via the NRA to keep the lax gun laws in states that enable gun trafficking to occur and therefore end up on the streets of our city. these are small minded people with a huge lobby. until this is changed, guns will be easily available to the morons in our city.

Jul. 10 2012 11:50 AM

The purpose of stop & frisk is to rid the streets of guns & weapons. If stop and frisk is successful the number of shootings & murders will go down. Interestingly, the number of murders have gone down but the number of shootings has gone up. Yet the number of people stopped & frisked is at a record high. So something isn't right with stop & frisk here. It maybe preventing people from being murdered, but its not getting guns of the street.

Jul. 10 2012 11:34 AM
bernie from bklyn

get your community in check and you won't be racially profiled; it's that simple.

Jul. 10 2012 11:09 AM
Colin from Manhattan

I think it's preposterous that Brian Lehrer should attempt to correlate recent community pressure against the stop and frisk policy and the recent upsurge in violent crime in the city. Brian and the interviewee didn't discuss any of the details regarding the astonishing spate of recent killings in the city. Many of the killings happened in people's homes, and had nothing to do with guns and everything to do with people put in crippling conditions by our society. Meanwhile, the most talked-about gun crime involved 3 people being riddled with bullets from an AK-47.

Aren't there some broader problems at hand when civilians are driving around New York with AK-47s? And could that, or any of the other crimes, really have been stopped by stop and frisk?

The notion that there is a trade-off between civil liberties and security, advanced not only by the cop who called but by BL himself, is a total fallacy. Trying to stop crime in New York by relentlessly criminalizing and harassing poor people of color is like trying to get rid of a cancerous tumor by hacking at it with a kitchen knife.

Jul. 10 2012 11:03 AM
robin jennifer from NJ

As a mother of two children, if , when they get older, they are NOT doing anything illegal, i don't feel they have to answer questions from the police about "where are you going?" and "what are you doing around here?". And feel that it is wrong for police to ask anyone of any race "what are you doing around here" simply because it's 11 pm and they look unfamiliar. It's not illegal to walk around.

Jul. 10 2012 10:58 AM
gary from queens

Sheldon, of course a balance should be made. and the public should have a say. in high crime areas, adults with children should be heard on the matter.

Instead, all we hear are youth who are being harrassed by the stops, and politicians who are demagoging this issue by race, to get elected.

And then there are white liberals in their safe white neighborhoods, like you, who feel so guilty that you foresake the people who are being protected by stop-frisk.

(yes, i live in the hood)

Jul. 10 2012 10:58 AM

Andy from manhattan

Jul. 10 2012 10:53 AM
3RDANSWER from nyc

poetessnyc from Brooklyn NY

And they probably teated you with respect or mabey even thought you were cute. A Black male would have to worry about being shot or beat up. Guilty or not.

Jul. 10 2012 10:49 AM
Andy from manhattan

i remember hearing a report via bbc on rotterdam's police department, and how they are required to spend 20% of their duty time fulfilling roles the community has a direct hand selecting. they have seen a dramatic decrease in crime, and a decidedly better relationship with their constituency.

while i know it is naive to expect emperor bloomberg or general kelly to cede any authority at all to the people, i can't help but think that nypd and nyc both would greatly benefit by the public's involvement in priority setting. they are supposed to protect and SERVE, aren't they?

Jul. 10 2012 10:47 AM
Rodrigo from Bronx

The Judges were definitely correct in dismissing the charges. People would feel differently if they themselves were stopped simply for having put "something black" into their pocket. People forget that the laws/constitution are made to protect the innocent people, the 99.9% of the 600,000+ poeple who were stopped for no proper reason at all. The sad thing is that we are focusing on the few people who actually did something wrong, but not on the hundreds of thousands who were stopped but were not breaking any laws.

Jul. 10 2012 10:46 AM
Lamar from Harlem

In 1996, I was in Jamaica, Queens about 3 p.m. in the afternoon. I was a sales person, dressed in a suit (Ralph Lauren) and the police detained me for over a half hour and then when a sergeant arrived, he wanted to take me to the precinct to have me finger printed and photographed because they said I fit the description of a drug dealer. I showed my business card, products, drivers license, registration and insurance but still that did not deter them. Finally, I used the cops phone to call my boss. My boss daughter was a DA. When he told the cop his daughter was a DA did he release me. I am black, and am civic minded. So, to say I looked like a criminal and was displaying furtive movements is farcical.

Jul. 10 2012 10:45 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Brian's good questioning of the retired officer exposed the inevitability of racial profiling under this policy.

Really, the problem here is lack of context. By targeting people because they're black or latino and not dressed in a suit (ironic), the subtext is that those types are inherently criminal. This implication, and the lack of commmunity involvement beforehand, is what's offensive. If the reasons for high crime rates were kept in the forefront, and NYPD came to the community before implementation, things would be much less contentious.

Jul. 10 2012 10:45 AM
Rebecca from Brooklyn

Mister Mayor - maybe better way to stop crime from happening is by focusing on educating our youth, particularly in low-income areas where much of these violent crimes are taking place.

Jul. 10 2012 10:44 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

your cop caller said, "if you are driving around the block 3 times in a particular neighborhood late at night" or something along those lines. Even if the NYPD thinks they are not racially profiling people that sentence basically just showed how they are. If you live in Brownsville and you are coming home from your job at 11pm on a Tuesday night. You may look, "Suspicious" but you are really just looking for a place to park and go home.

Also, As Ailsa just said. We can't stop having stop and frisks, the police need to stop and frisk people, but almost 700,000 in a year is abhorrent. The police need to be able to show a real probable cause. The police need to have accountability to the community. The police need to not criminalize an entire generation of young men of color!

Jul. 10 2012 10:43 AM
Leo from queens

In answer to the Police officer who called. we want proper policing - we want community policing -for Police officers to be engaged and respect the residents of communities since 99.9% of us are hard working decent people. We want stop and frisk . we want surveillance, but it has to be respectful of civil rights and based on facts. We want for you to aggresively go after the drug distributors and gun traffickers and prostitution and smuggling rings that are thriving in the city. We want you to be engaged so that you understand where the problems are.

Jul. 10 2012 10:43 AM
3RDANSWER from nyc

LOFL.."Excuse me sir where are you going?"....."So what are you doing this evening."? Are you kidding me? Even a cop walking a beat on Sesame street would not be that nice. Especially to burt ernie and grover.

Jul. 10 2012 10:42 AM
joe from nearby

"Stop 'stop & frisks' for a year"??

No......just use them correctly officers.
Stop being childish.

Jul. 10 2012 10:42 AM
poetessnyc from Brooklyn NY

I was a white female over 40 years old at the time (about ten years ago) driving an older minivan with out-of-state plates heading north on Amsterdam Avenue towards Harlem at about 2 in the morning. I was returning home from a road trip, with boxes and furniture in the back. I was stopped when I squealed my brakes at a red light. I opened the window and placed my hands on the door in full sight. The officers approached with their guns drawn. I have no problem with it -- they checked my address, looked in the back, and advised me to drive more slowly.

Jul. 10 2012 10:41 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

There is no excuse for violating my civil rights just to catch bad guys. Find another way to get the bad guys. Once you give up your civil liberties, you’ll never get them back. Seriously, I'd rather get shot then give up my civil liberties.

Jul. 10 2012 10:39 AM
Leo from Queens

aren't police officers being zealous and aggressive because they have 'performance' quotas - revenue quotas that they have to meet otherwise they are penalized.

Jul. 10 2012 10:39 AM

Split second decisons BL? If the person is Black or Latino the decision is already made...nothing to do with the rule of law, suspicion, hunch...its a police state, thats what they do. Whatever they want whenever they want.

Jul. 10 2012 10:36 AM

In the future police officers will "get the message" from these decisions & just claim they suspected it was a gun. That's all the judges wanted to hear after all

Jul. 10 2012 10:35 AM
oscar from ny

Seems lots of cops are angry or fustrated that their job is boring and so to get their rocks off they start inventing trouble...i wish there were cops inside this goverment with such demenor so the politicians would at least try to walk the cautious path..

Jul. 10 2012 10:35 AM
Leo from Queens

Can you speak about the lack of proper training for police officers - I think there should be stop and frisk -but not at the rates and with the racial and social prejudice being committed against the poor. Whites are more than likely to own guns and consume more expensive illegal guns. But they are not targeted.

We need to train police officers as we are putting our kids AND police officer's lives in danger. Bloomberg, Quinn, Kelly and the brass at the NYPD are responsible and should be held accountable for many police deaths and the executions of teenagers committed by rogue, unsupervised and untrained police officers.

Jul. 10 2012 10:34 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Yes Gary....over 90% of gun crimes in this city are committed by mostly young black males..ironically over 90% of the victims are also black..That still doesn't give the Govt - via the police, the right to do whatever they please...You as a so-called conservative should know that.

Without judging on this case - as I don't know the facts - what's "right" and what's legal, are two different things.

Jul. 10 2012 10:34 AM
john from office

The Judges in these cases then went home to Westchester or the Upper East side and drank white wine, in there white enclave. The defendants returned to their homes to do more crime.

Jul. 10 2012 10:31 AM
gary from queens

As expected, there is a level of diminishing returns with respect to retrieving guns through stop and frisk.

That's because the target youth and others who commit crimes with guns----virtually all black (over 90%)----wish to avoid the likelihood of getting frisked while carrying a gun.

That was the aim of stop and frisk----to lower the level of gun violence. Arrests for carrying was not an end unto itself.

Yet dummies or race demagogues (or both) keep citing the lowering levels of arrests for gun carrying. And liberal moderators of talk shows never refute that talking point. Which is why debate counterpoint is the best way to ensure a balanced education of the issues.

Jul. 10 2012 09:47 AM

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