Opinion: Terry Stops and Three Strikes Laws; Time to Revisit Them (Part 1)

Seth Wenig
AP featured image
The Rev. Al Sharpton, center, walks with demonstrators during a silent march to end the “stop-and-frisk” program in New York, Sunday, June 17, 2012. Thousands of protesters from civil rights groups walked down New York City?s Fifth Avenue in total silence on Sunday as they marched in defiance of ?stop-and-frisk? tactics employed by city police. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Yesterday, I was listening to the David Webb Show and he had on a retired NYPD Police Captain. His guest was pretty brutal in his assessment of the current Mayor of Gotham. His view was pretty close to mine, although not quite as salty. His words did however, provide the start point for this little piece.

New York Mayor Warren Wilhelm Jr. also known as “Bill DeBlasio” has gone from prohibiting Terry Stops by his Patrolmen, to outright elimination of critical units within the NYPD—I’m thinking the Anti Crime Unit. That’s not the primary purpose of this article. Over the next day or so, we are going to talk about some of the most effective techniques of reducing violent crime. Today’s article will focus on the Terry Stop, also known as “Stop and Frisk.”

The Terry Stop got its name from a Supreme Court case back in 1968. In the Reader’s Digest version, a police officer observed two men acting suspiciously. They appeared to be “casing” a business in preparation for an armed robbery. The Officer approached the two men, patted them down and discovered a firearm. Both of them were convicted on a weapons charge.

It didn’t stop there. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court which ruled that the pat down and subsequent search was legal. I remember how it got explained to me when I went through the Police Academy. You need “reasonable suspicion” for a Terry Stop. Reasonable suspicion is somewhere between mere suspicion (or a hunch) and probable cause or actual knowledge.


Bob Weir over at American Thinker explains all of this in detail and from a Patrol Officer viewpoint. It’s a great article. I highly recommend it.

Read: A cop explains why stop-and-frisk works

Since that SCOTUS decision, hundreds of thousands of illegal firearms have been taken off the street and countless lives saved…many of them Black lives. Of course, like any other common sense program that actually works, Democrats are against it. And like many things Democrats are against, they feel the need to throw the race card. Enter Mayor Willhelm…Ahem! DeBlasio who pledged to greatly reduce the practice and has done so. Most recently, in an act of spineless pandering to the mobs, he disbanded the City’s Anti-Crime Unit which worked in plainclothes and made very effective use of the Terry Stop to get illegal weapons and their criminal possessors, off the street.

That is one of the huge, direct benefits benefits of the Terry Stop. It gets a criminal off the street, however temporarily. It gets that illegal firearm of the street, permanently. There is also a modest deterrent effect. Illegal gun possession carries a pretty decent penalty for a convicted felon. Knowing he can be stopped and patted down, may reduce a felon’s inclination to carry a firearm, or at least make it more risky to do so. Obviously, the Communist front groups known as ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter, now have no such concerns, thanks to the current Mayor of New York and the leadership Democrat burgs.


Tomorrow, 3 Strikes and how Democrats want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Stay tuned.

David Webb can be found on Sirius XM 125 (Patriot) M-F, 9-1200 EST.

Here is some other reading for those interested in this particular piece of Police procedure:

Read—Career Criminals Targeted: The Verdict is in, California’s Three Strikes Law Proves Effective

Read—A Primer—Three Strikes – The Impact After More Than a Decade


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