NYPD Stop and Frisk Policy Racist, Critics Say

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Critics are saying that the New York Police Department's stop, question and frisk policy amounts to racial discrimination. Under the policy New York police are allowed to stop and question anyone on the street if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in criminal activity, about to engage in criminal activity or is armed.

Under the policy, nearly 700,000 people were searched in 2011. Statistics show that the majority of people who were stopped were male and African American or Latino-92 percent were male and 87 percent were African American. Records also show that most of the searches take place in high-crime areas of the city with high African American concentrations.

At a recent City Council hearing, NYPD police commissioner Ray Kelly defended the policy and said that 96 percent of people who were shot are minorities, so stopping and questioning suspicions people in communities with high concentration of minorities is justified. Kelly went on to say that about half of the stops resulted in a limited search with only nine percent requiring a more invasive search.

Critics of the policy, like Delores Jones-Brown, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, say that 90 percent of the searches did not result in an arrest and of the 10 percent that did, only one percent actually turn up a weapon. Jones-Brown commented, "That means that innocent people who are primarily black and brown are being swept up in this policy as opposed to the object of the policy, which is to detect the guilty."

A federal judge may ultimately decide the fate of the policy, as a class action lawsuit has been filed alleging that the policy goes too far and violates minorities' rights.

Consult an Attorney

If you have been arrested after being questioned or searched by the police you have certain constitutional protections. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise you of your rights and put together an effective defense based on the circumstances of your arrest.