“I’m sorry, but any police department in America that tries to function without some form of ‘stop and frisk,’ or whatever terminology they use, is doomed to failure. It’s that simple.” - William Bratton, former Los Angeles Police Chief, former New York City and Boston Police Commissioner
On January 23, the Oakland City Council voted to approve a $250,000 consulting contract to a team that includes former LAPD chief William Bratton. Bratton's strong support of stop and frisk policies have residents worried that he will bring this approach to Oakland. Bratton has a consulting contract with Detroit and is working on a proposal with Baltimore, possibly indicating that more cities will implement this policy.
Despite the claims that 'stop and frisk' is reducing crime and getting illegal guns off the street, there is no evidence that it actually works. What the evidence does support is increased racial profiling and the degradation of community trust in law enforcement. With the rate of arrests and guns being removed from the street being minimal, the ‘stop and frisk’ policy is hurting the community more than it helps, and it needs to be stopped.
In 2011, there were 684,330 stops as a result of stop and frisk, up 14% from 2010 and a 600% increase since 2002. 9 out of every 10 people stopped were never arrested, and never even received a summons, while 87% of those stopped were black and Latino. With the rate of arrests and summons so low, where is the impact on crime?
Women are being impacted as well. In 2011, 46,784 women were stopped, and 16,000 were frisked. Police found 59 guns. With a 0.13% rate of guns found for women and 0.12%for men, how impactful is the policy really being for removing guns?
In May of 2012, a federal judge indicated that the city’s own records showed many stops failed to meet a constitutional standard for searches. The law does not permit the searching of pockets based on a hunch; to go beyond a pat down, there needs to be a higher level of evidence that a weapon is present. The judge found that these searches did not meet the higher standard and were based on vague grounds.
What the policy has done is create a culture of distrust with law enforcement. “Honestly, it makes young people mistrustful of the police. I think it makes them feel like the police are the enemy.” This is a quote from Djibril Toure, a 39-year-old businessman from New York who attended Cornell University. He admits that even though he has never committed a crime, he worries every time a cop car slows down near him as he is walking. He feels a combination of being angry and humiliated and being stopped, because there was no reason to stop him.
The stop and frisk policy has not impacted crime or the removal of guns from the street. What the evidence supports is a building up of mistrust between communities of color and law enforcement. Oakland (and any other city) would be wise to avoid such a policy that sets communities backwards and not forward. If our young men and women grow up in fear of the law enforcement that is supposed to protect them, how are we moving our communities forward?