The Dispute Over Stop and Frisk

By Brendalis Martinez

With the recent change in New York City’s mayor, many policies have been put under fire. One of the most polemical topics has been the New York Police Department’s use of Stop and Frisk.

“Stop and Frisk” is, according to Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, “A brief, non-intrusive, police stop of a suspect,” based on “reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed before stopping a suspect.”

It includes a pat down of the person’s clothing in order to search for a weapon. The issue with this policy is that it has been applied in a manner that discriminate against young Hispanic and African-American men to find drugs, instead of weapons.

Kenneth McCumiskey, a Global studies teacher, said that, “It is not racial profiling, but more neighborhood profiling.”  He says that the policy is executed in neighborhoods with a higher rate of crime. He believes that there can be modifications done to it to make it better, and he’s sure that in the new administration it will be reformed.

Christopher Holland, a teacher in the Law and Society major, feels that many stops are based on racial profiling. “It’s a racial policy that targets communities—especially diverse communities,” he said. “It unfairly targets African-American and Latino populations.”

As many of his students argue in class discussions on the policy, Holland said, “It is not about the guilty parties, the issue is how those that are innocent are being pushed into a category where home is no longer home—it strips them of their community identity.” He also believes that the relationship between communities and the police need to be rebuilt.

Ashley Tang ’16, however, feels that Stop and Frisk is necessary. “It makes me aware of how random people or my friends are taking drugs or holding weapons,” she said. Because of Stop-and-Frisk, she argued, the outside world is safer.

Brandon Yan ‘17 finds the policy discriminatory.  “I have seen officers stop and frisk a lot more African-Americans than Asians,” he said.

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