The New York Police Department’s Stop and Frisk Policy: A Time Series Analysis

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At the core of the stop and frisk policy as utilized by the New York Police Department is racial profiling. Racial profiling has a significant and often controversial place in the history of policing in the United States. Racial profiling can be loosely defined as the use of race as a key determinant in law enforcement decisions to stop, interrogate, and/or detain citizens (Weitzer & Tuch, 2002). Laws in the United States have helped to procure and ensure race based decisions in law enforcement. Historically, the Supreme Court has handed down decisions which increase the scope of discretion of a law enforcement officer. For example, traffic stops can be used to look for evidence even though the officer has not observed any criminal violation (Harris, 2003). Proponent's for racial profiling reason that racial profiling is a crime fighting tool that does treat racial/ethnic groups as potential criminal suspects based on the assumption that by doing so increases the chances of catching criminals (Harris, 2003). Also, it is important to note, law enforcement officers only need reasonable suspicion to stop and frisk, probable cause is not required as in other circumstances (Harris, 2003). It is because of this assumption that the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy is still a relevant issue.

When police officers are perceived as being racially motivated, where certain groups of people are being targeted, it undermines the social goals of policing, weakens residents’ cooperation with police and raises questions about the legitimacy of law (Fagan & Davies, 2000). Supporters also back up this claim with statistics that show an association between racial/ethnic groups and crime (Harris, 2003). The arg...

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