Decoding Stop & Frisk

stop and frisk
By: William Avery Hudson

Stop and Frisk is a highly controversial policy maintained by the New York Police Department in an effort to combat illegal handguns on the street in New York City. However, less then .2 percent of stops result in the confiscation of an illegal gun. Essentially stop and frisk involves random stopping, questioning and search of individuals on the street and on public transit around the city. The policy is controversial because many feel it is not random and is racially biased. Many feel that are disproportionate amounts of young black and Hispanic men being stopped in comparison to any other demographic. In addition the policy provokes questions of civil liberties and individual rights.

Stop and frisk policy was being heard on the Southern District of New York District Court in Floyd v. City of New York from March to May 2013. The question is whether stop and frisk is constitutional not whether the policy is an effect means for crime and contraband reduction.

Despite the controversial nature of stop and frisk, the most important thing for individuals is to know your rights. Knowing what your rights are when stopped by the police can be the difference of walking away and being arrested or detained. A helpful link explaining your rights when stopped by an officer can be found here

What to do when stopped by New York Civil Liberties Union:

1. What you say to the police is always important. Everything you say can be used against you.

2. You have the right not to speak. To exercise this right, you should tell the police, “I would like to remain silent.”

3. You never have to consent to a search of yourself, your belongings, your car or your house. If you do consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court.

4. If they don’t have a warrant, say “I do not consent to this search.”
Police cannot arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search. This may not stop the search from happening, but it will protect your rights if you have to go to court.

5. Do not interfere with or obstruct the police—you can be arrested for it.

Further know your rights information provided by the American Civil Liberties Union in both English and Spanish can be found here  

NYACLU launched a Stop and Frisk App earlier this year – you can download the app here:
This post is brought to you by LawHelpNY intern Natalie Omary a rising Junior at Clark University studying political science.

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