While the Terry stop (otherwise referred to as a “stop and frisk”) procedure has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the use of this law enforcement tool is coming under fire in New York. In a case that could have implications for other states, the practices of the New York Police Department in conducting stop and frisks are being challenged because the police have stopped five million people during the last decade who were mostly black or Hispanic according to a report published by the AP.
A stop and frisk permits a law enforcement officer to briefly detain a suspect and inquire further if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person detained is involved in criminal activity. The law enforcement contact must be brief and it must be based on articulable facts. During the brief duration of a stop and frisk, the officer may pat down the person detained. The rationale for permitting a pat down is to ensure the officer’s safety by confirming that the person stopped is not carrying any weapons.
Because the stop and frisk rule does not require the higher standard of probable cause, the law enforcement tool is has more potential for abuse. What transpires during a Terry stop will determine whether the officer has probable cause to conduct a more extensive search or arrest the suspect. The types of evidence that may be relevant to whether probable cause has been established during a stop and frisk include such factors as whether a suspect flees, closeness in description of the person stopped to a suspect, proximity of location to the criminal offense, demeanor of the person detained and other similar factors.
The civil case challenging the racial profiling of those subjected to a stop and frisk alleges that 83 percent of those who are subjected to the stop and frisk procedure in New York are either Hispanic or black. Of the over half a million people stopped annually by the police in New York, 51 percent are black while 32 percent are Hispanic despite the fact that only 26 percent of those who live in New York are black while 28 percent are Hispanic. About half of those forced to submit to the stop and frisk procedure have their bags or backpacks searched or are subject to a pat down.
The potential abuse of the stop and frisk also is supported by the fact that only about one in ten stop and frisks conducted during the last decade actually resulted in an arrest according to the AP report. If you suspect racial profiling was a factor in you or someone close to you being arrested in Johnson County or anywhere in the surrounding areas of Kansas, experienced Johnson County criminal defense attorney Stacey Schlimmer closely scrutinizes law enforcement procedures and officer conduct for evidence of racial bias. Our Kansas criminal defense law firm offers a confidential free consultation so call us today at 913-219-5424 or contact us online.