Stop and Frisk: Prejudiced Policies

By Khemilla Kedarnath

As he walks home, a man of color is susceptible to be stopped and frisked by police. Why? Because he simply looks suspicious to them. Wearing baggy clothing alone could tempt an abusive police officer to stop him. This man who was stopped can easily be a certified lawyer, a college student, or even a hardworking father. This man could have been very busy. However, he patiently waits to ensure that the police collect evidence of his “unlawful” behavior – which most of the time turn out to be perfectly legal.

Government abuse like the one mentioned above is a daily routine for people of color. Whether they like it or not, race remains an essential element that aids the police to their main targets, and they, whether they are adults or teenagers, have to live with it.

Blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups who simply look “threatening” to those stereotyping them have to deal with intrusive police suspicion. They must endure frequent subway searches that prove to lessen the amount of street crime and violence in New York State.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, also known as NYCLU, in 2012, the police stopped New Yorkers 532,911 times, however only 89% were innocent. This shows that the stop and frisk policy is ineffective. More than half the people stopped, were completely innocent. As stated by the New York Police Department’s own reports, nine out of ten people who were stopped and frisked were innocent.

Not only is this policy unproductive, it is also racist. According data recorded by the NYCLU, in that same year, 55% of the people stopped were black, 32% were Latino, and only 10% were white. This illustrates that police officers usually look for those who fit the image of a criminal. In other words, a Black person wearing a dark hoodie is probable cause for an officer to stop them.

One college student, who declined to give me her name, tells that the police stopped her when she was leaving a train station. She explained that they asked to search her bag, and afterwards, she left. The next day, the same thing happened to her at the same place, and she stated that the same group of cops stopped her again. She mentioned that she was “pissed off because they weren’t taking their job seriously.”

This woman explains that she felt she was racially profiled because she was a “lady of color” whose background origins come from Guyana. This student said that the police should not only target people who live in low-income neighborhoods, or are of a specific minority group. She explained that she was not in favor of the fact that a “certain group” is constantly targeted.

As I walked home from school, in complete uniform, the police stopped my friends and me. They even drove onto the sidewalk, all just to ask us where we were going. Annoyed, we answered that we were on our way home. How would an adult feel if they were stopped? While dressed in non-threatening clothing, uniform in my case, we were stopped, because a group of honor students looked threatening. This is simply police abuse. There are so many other things that take place in the Bronx that should attract police security. Children are being robbed, stabbed, and jumped at train stations. MTA officials are being attacked while on duty. Why are the police not concerned about these issues?

How would a government official feel if the police stopped them because they seemed suspicious? How many more people are going to be stopped due to police ignorance and when will they realize that they are being prejudiced?


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