Academic journal article Theory in Action

Stop and Frisk: The Use and Abuse of a Controversial Policing Tactic

Academic journal article Theory in Action

Stop and Frisk: The Use and Abuse of a Controversial Policing Tactic

Article excerpt

Book Review: White, Michael D. and Fradella, Henry F., Stop and Frisk: The Use and Abuse of a Controversial Policing Tactic. New York: New York University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9781479835881 (Hardcover). 253 Pages. $30.00.

[Article copies available for a fee from The Transformative Studies Institute. E-mail address: journal@Transformativestudies.org Website: http://www.transformativestudies.org ©2019 by The Transformative Studies Institute. All rights reserved.]

Stop and Frisk: The Use and Abuse of a Controversial Policing Tactic is an in-depth analysis of the police practice known as "Stop, Question, Frisk (SQF)," commonly referred to as the Terry stop, stemming from the landmark 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio. The book begins with a brief introduction into the Terry v. Ohio case, as well as the 2013 federal district ruling in Floyd v. City of New York, and is strategically placed in a sort of "how this all began and where it got us" condensed timeline. The authors then delve into a detailed history of SQF, highlight its controversies and implications, then follow with a strategy for improving the use of SQF and suggest its role in the future of policing. The book is a combined effort between author Michael D. White and Henry F. Fradella, and one chapter contains a contribution from Weston Morrow. An epilogue concludes the book which provides updates from a report issued as a result of the Floyd decision, followed by extensive notes, references and index sections.

The authors begin Stop and Frisk by examining the use and abuse of SQF policing tactics implemented by the New York Police Department in the late 1980s. This practice continued for the next two decades, primarily under the Giuliani and Bloomberg Mayoral administrations. The authors contend that the implementation of SQF policing was in response to spikes in violent crime that occurred in New York City and in collaboration with the "broken window" method of crime control (see Kelling and Wilson, 1982). According to the authors, this aggressive style of order-maintenance policing revolves around the idea that if no one repairs the proverbial broken window, then other things will start to break, as it is believed that no one cares enough, ultimately resulting in a breakdown of social order. Stop and Frisk provides a compelling argument that this overly aggressive use of SQF stops, or Terry stops, resulted in more harm (souring of community relations) than good (crime reduction) and furthermore lead to the violation of thousands of people's 4th and 14th Amendment rights. The authors argue that Terry stops harken back to the 19th Century slave patrols and are disproportionally used in modern times against minorities and low-income citizens. Fortunately, not all hope is lost in Stop and Frisk, as the book infers that careful, strategic planning of SQF's coupled with well-trained, non-disparaging officers and implemented in a legitimate, accepted crime control method can produce results unobjectionable to all involved stakeholders. The authors' analysis of SQF historical context, combined with their strategies of both police officer selection and training, and incorporating Terry stops into modern crime control programs, show a promising future for a once volatile police practice into an effective crime reduction tool.

The U.S. Supreme Court likely had good intentions with the 1968 Terry v. Ohio decision to reduce the burden of proof to reasonable suspicion in the name of police officer safety. According to Officer McFadden's testimony in the above case, no 4th Amendment violation occurred when he stopped and frisked two suspects, which lead to the discovery of two firearms and resulted in their arrests. The authors propose, however, that McFadden's testimony during the suppression hearing did not match his original report and insinuate in the book that his real suspicions for stopping the men were racially motivated. Whether McFadden was racially profiling the men is debatable, but what is not easily countered are the statistics Stop and Frisk reveals regarding the SQF practices of the NYPD. …

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