Here's Why Stop and Frisk Is Not a Policy Worth Conserving

The controversial “Stop and Frisk” policy once again entered the national conversation after an audio recording of Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg emerged in which he defended the program while he was still Mayor of New York City. His comments earned the ire of many on the left who have decried the policy as both racist and unconstitutional.


Interestingly enough, Bloomberg’s remarks also received criticism from the right. Brad Parscale, President Trump’s campaign manager, tweeted the audio of the speech, stating that “All the money in the world can’t undo this.”

Other prominent conservatives also bashed Bloomberg for his championing of the policy despite the fact that when the program was ramped up in New York City, they lauded it as an effective way to curb crime. Indeed, President Trump himself has praised the policy, suggesting that Chicago — whose crime rates have decreased for the third year in a row — should use the policy.

But are they right? Is Stop and Frisk an effective way to curb crime? According to the data, it isn’t. Not only that, the way the program was used in New York City was deemed to be an unconstitutional violation of the rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers — most of whom were black and Hispanic.

Stop and Frisk is a policy in which police officers conduct a brief stop of an individual they suspect of being involved in criminal activity. The Fourth Amendment prevents the government from stopping and searching a suspect without probable cause. For instance, if an officer has a valid suspicion that a person is carrying a gun illegally, he is allowed to pat down the suspect. But the controversy over the practice arose in New York City when its government, under the leadership of Bloomberg, ramped up the policy, resulting in police officers stopping and searching people based on questionable justifications.


Those who support Stop and Frisk claim that it was instrumental in reducing crime in New York City, where the program was used aggressively by the local police. But the numbers say something completely different. In a piece written for The National Review, Kyle Smith admits that the program didn’t work. He points to the fact that after the program was halted under Mayor de Blasio in 2014:

“New York City saw a record-low 333 homicides in 2014, the first year of the de Blasio administration. Though that figure was slightly higher in 2015 and 2016 (352 and 335), four of the five least-murderous years in New York City since 1960 have been in the de Blasio era. Other crime statistics have largely followed suit, with the total number of major crimes down in 2017 by about 6 percent since 2016, which was itself a record-low year.”

Smith also notes that in 2017, when the policy had been drastically scaled back, the city “saw 286 homicides in 2017, down 12 percent from the previous year.” In the previous year, the number of stops decreased to about 12,000. This was a dramatic contrast to 2011 when New York Police conducted 686,000 stops.

Put simply, crime continued to drop even after Stop and Frisk was stopped. The data also shows that when the policy was in full swing, it was not effective when it comes to catching criminals. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of those who were stopped were innocent.


NYPD data on the implementation of the Stop and Frisk policy between 2003 and 2013 — the time period in which the city’s government expanded the program — reveals that each year, police made between 100,000 and 600,000 stops. Between 82% and 90% of these stops were performed on innocent citizens.

This means that the vast majority of stops did not turn up any evidence of potential crimes being committed. In most of these situations, no arrests were made. In other words, hundreds of thousands of fellow American citizens — mostly black and Hispanic — had their Fourth Amendment rights violated by their government for no valid reason. To make matters worse, there were other methods available to law enforcement that actually made a difference without resorting to tyrannical police state tactics.

So how did New York City manage to decrease crime? There were several tactics law enforcement used, but one of the most effective was the CompStat system. This tool allowed New York City police to collect essential data on crimes being committed in various parts of the city, which helped them deploy officers more efficiently. Under police commissioner James O’ Neill, the department has also put multiple reforms in place such as community policing that have made it easier to prevent crime.


The court case that protected the Stop and Frisk policy determined that officers must have reasonable suspicion if they are going to stop someone. But it is clear that the aggressive manner with which New York City pursued the Stop and Frisk policy between 2003 and 2013 represented a clear example of government overreach and brazen violations of the Fourth Amendment. When officers are given the authority to stop and search citizens based on flimsy suspicions, it causes the citizenry to live in fear.

Some, like Bloomberg, argued that it prompted people to leave their guns and drugs at home. But the reality is that it scared innocent civilians into also staying in their residences. From a conservative perspective, there is absolutely no reason why the government should have this level of power.

Yes, Bloomberg was a registered Republican at the time, but anyone with a modicum of common sense knows he is no conservative. So why would anyone on the right support such a policy? It is yet another example of the racist policies of Marxist governance, and it is not the only time the New York Police department has engaged in racially-motivated policing.

In the end, Stop and Frisk is a horrendous policy that is not worth conserving — especially if law enforcement agencies like New York City’s are willing to abuse it to target certain types of citizens. It might make some feel more secure, but the reality is that giving the government the authority to stop and search American citizens who are not engaged in wrongdoing is far more dangerous.



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