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NYPD’s UnConstitutional Stop-And-Frisk Game

March 28, 2013 by  

NYPD’s UnConstitutional Stop-And-Frisk Game
PHOTOS.COM

Imagine walking down the street in some less-traveled part of Manhattan — say, the Morningside Heights neighborhood. You’re enjoying the mild weather and urban hum of an early April evening. Maybe you’re a visitor who wants a street-level view of residential life in the big city. Maybe you’re a Columbia University student, walking to the bus stop after a day in the classroom.

Or maybe you’re a run-of-the-mill native New Yorker, one of millions of city dwellers whose parents or grandparents put down roots in the Nation’s greatest ethnic melting pot, all in a bid to realize the American dream.

Now imagine a squad car pulling up and a pair of NYPD’s finest pouncing out of the vehicle with their guns drawn — on you. Imagine being thrown against a wall, your pockets emptied, the contents of your backpack dumped on the ground, the feel of pistol steel against the back of your head. Imagine not knowing a thing about why it happened, having no inkling of what was about to happen — or why. It just happened, and then you’re back on your way.

Oh, and imagine that every bit of that happened less than a block from your own home.

That’s the stop-and-frisk experience for many New Yorkers each day, as it has been since 1971, when the policy was first allowed under a court-established legal precedent. The city has come under increased criticism in recent years for allowing the police to rely more heavily on the policy than in the past.

Now, police testimony in a class-action lawsuit against the city confirms what many already knew: The cops are targeting minorities and using a quota system that’s driven from the top down. The Guardian describes the testimony of two New York Police Department officers who testified in Federal court last week, noting the stop-and-frisk program is “driven by a high-pressure quota system imposed upon lower-ranking officers.”

One of the cops, officer Adhyl Polanco, said Tuesday that “there’s a difference” between what the police are supposed to do and “what goes on out there.” He also said cops in his Bronx precinct had been expected to issue 20 summonses and make one arrest every month, with tangible repercussions for failure. If they couldn’t, a senior officer would hop in the squad car with them, take them out into the streets and show the younger cop how it’s done.

“We were handcuffing kids for no reason,” he added.

There’s an undeniable connection between the jump in residents’ stop-and-frisk complaints over the past decade and the tenures of both Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Stop and frisk has seen its search count increase by 600 percent since Bloomberg became mayor. Since it began, the program has accounted for more than 5 million impromptu searches, a dubious honor it acquired just last week.

While crime has declined in New York City, plaintiffs in the lawsuit point out that it’s not an exceptional trend, that crime in most U.S. urban centers has experienced similar declines — without policies in place that authorize unConstitutional searches.

The lawsuit understandably seeks an end to stop-and-frisk on 4th Amendment grounds. Nearly 90 percent of all stop-and-frisk searches end with no arrest, summons or citation. By far, most of those who’ve been searched have been black or Hispanic. The Guardian article references one cop who described the target demographic for stop and frisk as “male blacks 14 to 21.”

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Gary

    To Doc Sarvis,
    As long as the brotherhood cover up such actions the broad brush theory has to apply. If there is one bad cop and 15,000 cover up the whole system is contaminated.

    • Doc Sarvis

      So you are saying that most of the police departments in this country, including every little hamlet P.D. is covering up for the NYPD? That is what Harold Olsen posted and what I responded to.

    • pissed off & liberal

      One fact missing most of the people targeted are either black or latino wher as most of the cops doing it and punishing the ones who don’t meet expectations are white.

      • wireline

        no they said it read the article all the way to the end, they mentioned that very fact

        • pissed off & liberal

          Really? i don’t remember seeing that.

          • wireline

            guess you need to read it again look right down towards the last line or so, it really isn’t that hard to find.

          • pissed off & liberal

            Yeah sometimes i skip the very end so that must be how i missed it. thank you

      • wireline

        here I will try to make it a little easier for you.

        By far, most of those who’ve been searched have been black or Hispanic. The Guardian article references one cop who described the target demographic for stop and frisk as “male blacks 14 to 21.”

  • Harold Olsen

    From what I hear about New York, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the cesspool of the country, even if the courts tell NYPD they have to stop this practice, they will continue it. When it comes to violating the law, NYPD is the worst. Most other police departments seem to be trying to catch to them in this. It seems like most police departments in this country are just a gang of thugs with badges.

  • Vicki

    THe OP writes:
    “Now imagine a squad car pulling up and a pair of NYPD’s finest pouncing out of the vehicle with their guns drawn — on you. Imagine being thrown against a wall, your pockets emptied, the contents of your backpack dumped on the ground, the feel of pistol steel against the back of your head. ”

    I don’t remember stories of even the NAZI’s being that obnoxious. Why are there still people living in New York?

  • Doc Sarvis

    Pure hearsay. Your broad paintbrush opinion is just to promote fear and hate.

  • tim

    The citizens of new york let them get away with this for years because these kids and the people they were targeting knew nothing about the 4th amendment or were too scared to say anything. I’m sure they were threatened every stop made!!!! New york cops are POS and most cops are trying to catch up with them!! Believe me one day your’e gonna hear on the news about cops being targeted and shot on the news, because some people have had it! Why do you think cops are arming themselves with military type weapons, they know its coming and thier getting ready for it. Problem is it’s thier own fault because they no longer protect and serve, it’s all about revenue and how much they can abuse people!!! And how can you justify this kind of crap by saying the crime rates are going down… The police break the law and then say crime rates are going down because of thier gestapo tactics. How many women are they raping, how many young kids are they abusing!!!!!

  • samuel

    You are right Olsen and agree with your comments.New York police are in the habit of
    violating it’s citizen rights no official cares about for the longest years so long as such cruel violations against
    citizens bring huge revenue for them to line their pockets.Each for himself and God for us all.

  • csaaphill

    let me guess leo lover?

  • Doc Sarvis

    Nope, I think the stop and frisk policy is wrong and should be stopped. I also think it is wrong to paint all police departments and all police officers with such broad strokes.

  • csaaphill

    when will the 2nd be implomented? better yet how many infringes will we suffer before we use our second amendment rights?

  • csaaphill

    for when people are saying peace peace will sudden distruction come.
    these I bet are experiments by the ptb to see how long they can violate the bill of rights before we snap. Also get used to it, for if the UN treaty is signed well see a lot more of this kind of thing.

  • RivahMitch

    If New York citizens had 2nd Amendment rights, the cops treatment of them would improve dramatically.

  • David

    I wish it was if the UN treaty is signed, but unfortunately I think it is more accurate to say when the UN treaty is signed. This President is very serious about getting it signed as it will prevent the next president from changing it (the small arms treaty) . If it were just a law that was passed the next president or Congress could change it. But a treaty is almost forever. And it gives more control over this country to the UN (which is what they really want) .

  • wireline

    Maybe not, but the SS would show up very similar to the way the gestapo does now at 2 in the morning and arrest people and take all their guns away. Besides they had already been registered so it was easy to do. So yes they did do things worse a lot worse, but we are getting there too. Because our police now like to make the late night early morning raids also now, when people will be the most confused when waking from sleep.

  • Right Brain Thinker

    No need to “imagine” this for some of us—-it happened to me and a couple of college buddies in Hoboken, NJ (not quite NYC, but right across the river) in 1958. We were heading downtown and a couple of cruisers pulled up and the next thing we knew, we had “assumed the position” up against a wall. We happened to fit the descriptions of a group that had just held up a liquor store a couple of blocks away. Once the officers figured out we weren’t the ones, they explained why we had been stopped, (and barely apologized), hopped back in their cars and took off. Stuff like that happened quite often in Hoboken—it was a tough town—-and we college kids actually were glad that they were trying to keep the streets safe for all—we barely talked about it after it happened.

    I do think there is more than a bit of exaggeration in this piece—”the feel of pistol steel against the back of your head”??? Seriously doubt that happens. I’ve spent a lot of time with police officers in some slightly “tight” situations and they seldom even put their hands on the butts of their guns, never mind drew them and pressed them against someone’s head.

    (and why is the Guardian so concerned with what’s going on in America anyway? Why don’t they go investigate Rupert Murdoch instead?)

  • Vicki

    A treaty that violates the limits expressly stated in the Constitution is just the same as any laws that violate the Constitutional limits on government. Our founders would not have been so naive as to make it so trivial to get around the whole purpose of having a Constitutionally LIMITED Republic.

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