Stop and frisk: Would it help Chicago?
One of the big disputes of the first presidential debate this week was “over, of all things, a local crime-fighting policy,” said German Lopez in Vox.com. During a segment on policing, Donald Trump repeated his previous assertion that he wanted to replicate New York’s now-defunct stop-and-frisk program in big cities such as Chicago. The Republican nominee claimed the policy—which encouraged cops to stop and search anyone they deemed suspicious—brought the crime rate “way down.” As usual, Trump has his own version of the truth, said Janell Ross in WashingtonPost.com. While crime and murder rates in New York fell dramatically when stop and frisk was in place, between 2002 and 2013, that decrease was part of a nationwide decline in crime that continued even after the policy had been dropped. And a federal judge ordered the policy halted for a very good reason: Stop and frisk was blatantly racist—87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic. The policy also harassed the innocent: Of the 685,724 people stopped in 2011, 88 percent “were neither arrested nor received any sort of citation.”
Actually, research shows that stop and frisk “can help reduce crime,” said Max Ehrenfreund, also in WashingtonPost.com, but not if stops are based on a “hunch.” Only when cops are given strict guidelines on when a stop is appropriate— if they “directly observe” someone acting aggressively, say—does that policy reduce crime. Stop and frisk also has to be backed up with tough sentences, said Holman Jenkins in The Wall Street Journal. In Chicago, most of the city’s 1,400 guncrime suspects “have been arrested and released multiple times on gun charges.” During the “heyday” of stop and frisk in New York, these criminals “wouldn’t have been released”—they would have been “hit with serious jail time,” thus taking illegal guns and violent offenders off the streets.
You’re ignoring a very basic problem, said Jamelle Bouie in Slate.com. A federal judge ruled stop and frisk unconstitutional because cops focused almost entirely on young black and Latino men. Yes, most perpetrators of violent crime meet that description —but it’s also true that most young black and Latino men “aren’t involved in crime.” When people of color are deemed inherently suspicious and subject to harassment and humiliation every time they step outside, it creates a two-tier legal system—“one for white people, and one for everyone else.”