NYPD routinely uses “stop-and-frisk” practices to seize to search for and seize firearms. These illegal searches result in arrests about 10 percent of the time. Some of the arrests don’t result in seizures of guns or drugs or other evidence of a crime. Many of the these arrests are for outstanding warrants and “disorderly conduct” which occurs after the stop.
Being an American means having certain rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That’s what it has always meant, and that’s what it will continue to mean in the troubled times before us. Most of us take these guaranteed rights and liberties for granted. Most of us live comfortable lives that never bring us in conflict with the criminal justice system. But in many ways, that’s a bad thing, for if you had seen the system as I did, you would never take your guaranteed rights for granted again.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, particularly when it comes to the American criminal justice system. Nowhere else does the state have greater raw power over an individual’s life, liberty, and property. And nowhere else are our constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms under such a relentless, subtle, and ultimately devastating attack.
NYPD’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity indicate that the police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year to search for guns and drugs. But these stops are a violation of citizens Fourth Amendment rights because the Terry Stop “reasonable suspicion” is based solely on race. The vast majority of those stopped and frisked are black and Latino.
In Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the United States Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated when a police officer stops a suspect on the street and frisks him without probable cause to arrest, if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief that the person “may be armed and presently dangerous.” (392 U.S. 1, at 30.)
The rationale behind the Supreme Court decision revolves around the understanding that, as the opinion notes, “the exclusionary rule has its limitations.” The meaning of the rule is to protect persons from unreasonable searches and seizures aimed at gathering evidence, not searches and seizures for other purposes (like prevention of crime or personal protection of police officers).
This is exactly what Gun Grabber Mayor Bloomberg is having NYPD illegally do. These searches are clear violations of the Fourth Amendment and do not qualify as legal Terry Stops. NYPD is intentionally violating the Fourth Amendment. NYPD officer’s suspicions are wrong 90% of the time. Obviously if they’re wrong 9 out of 10 times, the officers don’t have reasonable suspicion.
The Supreme Court assessed the reasonableness of the police activity here by comparing it to activity that would ordinarily require a warrant. “… in justifying the particular intrusion the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulatable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the intrusion.” In a situation where the police obtained a warrant, they would have brought these facts and inferences to the attention of a judicial officer before embarking on the actions in question. Post hoc judicial review of police activity is equally facilitated by these facts and inferences.
The Court also emphasized that the standard courts should employ is an objective one. “Would the facts available to the officer at the moment of the seizure or the search warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the action taken was appropriate?” Lesser evidence would mean that the Court would tolerate invasions on the privacy of citizens supported by mere hunches—a result the Court would not tolerate. Moreover,
- And simple “ ‘good faith on the part of the arresting officer is not enough.’ … If subjective good faith alone were the test, the protections of the Fourth Amendment would evaporate, and the people would be ‘secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,’ only in the discretion of the police.” — quoting Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89 (1964)
- An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2004. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been innocent citizens, according to the NYPD’s own reports:
- In 2002, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 97,296 times.
80,176 were totally innocent (82 percent).
- In 2003, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 160,851 times.
140,442 were totally innocent (87 percent).
77,704 were black (54 percent).
44,581 were Latino (31 percent).
17,623 were white (12 percent).
83,499 were aged 14-24 (55 percent).
- In 2004, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 313,523 times.
278,933 were totally innocent (89 percent).
155,033 were black (55 percent).
89,937 were Latino (32 percent).
28,913 were white (10 percent).
152,196 were aged 14-24 (52 percent).
- In 2005, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 398,191 times.
352,348 were totally innocent (89 percent).
196,570 were black (54 percent).
115,088 were Latino (32 percent).
40,713 were white (11 percent).
189,854 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
- In 2006, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 506,491 times.
457,163 were totally innocent (90 percent).
267,468 were black (55 percent).
147,862 were Latino (31 percent).
53,500 were white (11 percent).
247,691 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
- In 2007, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 472,096 times.
410,936 were totally innocent (87 percent).
243,766 were black (54 percent).
141,868 were Latino (31 percent).
52,887 were white (12 percent).
223,783 were aged 14-24 (48 percent).
- In 2008, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 540,302 times.
474,387 were totally innocent (88 percent).
275,588 were black (53 percent).
168,475 were Latino (32 percent).
57,650 were white (11 percent).
263,408 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
- In 2009, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 581,168 times.
510,742 were totally innocent (88 percent).
310,611 were black (55 percent).
180,055 were Latino (32 percent).
53,601 were white (10 percent).
289,602 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
- In 2010, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 601,285 times.
518,849 were totally innocent (86 percent).
315,083 were black (54 percent).
189,326 were Latino (33 percent).
54,810 were white (9 percent).
295,902 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
- In 2011, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 685,724 times.
605,328 were totally innocent (88 percent).
350,743 were black (53 percent).
223,740 were Latino (34 percent).
61,805 were white (9 percent).
341,581 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
- In the first three months of 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 203,500 times
181,457 were totally innocent (89 percent).
108,097 were black (54 percent).
69,043 were Latino (33 percent).
18,387 were white (9 percent).