Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What is "Stop and Frisk" anyway?

It was an area of disagreement between the candidates in last nights debate - and there seemed to be disagreement on whether the courts have ruled the practice unconstitutional.

A few items to help process all of it - or some of it.

From Cornell's LII:

A brief, non-intrusive, police stop of a suspect. The Fourth Amendment requires that the police have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed before stopping a suspect. If the police reasonably suspect the person is armed and dangerous, they may conduct a frisk, a quick pat-down of the person’s outer clothing. See Terry v Ohio, 392 US 1, (1967).

Notice the use of the term "reasonable suspicion" rather than "probable cause."

Reasonable suspicion allows the search - probable cause allows the arrest.

Because this stems from the case of Terry v Ohio - click here for it - these are also called Terry Stops.

Here is Cornell's definition of reasonable suspicion:


Reasonable suspicion is a standard used in criminal procedure. It is looser than probable cause. Reasonable suspicion is sufficient to justify brief stops and detentions, but not enough to justify a full search. When determining reasonable suspicion, courts consider the events leading up to the brief stop and a decide whether these facts, viewed from the standpoint of an objectively reasonable police officer, amount to reasonable suspicion. Courts look at the totality of the circumstances of each case to see whether the officer has a particularized and objective basis for suspecting legal wrongdoing.

For more on Stop and Frisk in New York City click here.

Does it deter crime? Does it impact minority populations disproportionately?

- Click here for that.

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