Tebben Gill Lopez/ The Mirror
Letter to the Editor:
This is a response to the article “The Dark Side of Stop and Frisk” written by Jane Holland on Feb. 12.
An NYPD officer is directed to stop-and-frisk someone that appears “reasonably suspicious.” This relative language is the problem I have with New York City’s controversial policy.
According to NYPD reports, New Yorkers were stopped-and-frisked 532,911 times in 2012. Eighty-nine percent of those stopped by this policy were found not guilty of any crime. Fifty-three percent of those stopped were African-American, 34 percent were Latino-American and only 9 percent were Caucasian-American.
Holland said believes Police Commissioner Bratton’s statement that the NYPD “will not break the law to enforce the law.” While I think the NYPD acts with the best of intentions, their own reports show behavior that conflicts basic constitutional rights and liberties.
In regards to the Fourth Amendment, the searches are clearly unreasonable when only about 10 percent of those stopped actually receive a summons. The policy is also discriminatory in nature, and therefore contradicts the Fourteenth Amendment, when 87 percent of those stopped are African-American or Latino-American.
I agree with Holland that “it is the job of law enforcement to keep us safe from danger,” but is this the solution? According to a Daily News report, only two percent of stops resulted in finding an unlicensed handgun. Chris Dunn, spokesman of the New York Civil Liberties Union, noted that the murder rate in New York City has steadily dropped since 1990, showing no evidence that this policy has impacted this decline.
I also believe in “proactive policing,” but at what cost? Stop-and-frisk is certainly not worth my trust in law enforcement. This policy transforms the image of a dependable officer that protects the people into a judgmental agent that monitors the neighborhood. Even if I am not subjected to stop-and-frisk, it is unfair to ask that someone else accept this invasive treatment for my own peace of mind.
This policy speaks to a larger conversation about civil liberties and civil rights in the United States. If we have nothing to hide, then a police officer is not only welcomed to engage us in stop-and-frisk, but also wiretap our phones, place cameras in our homes and read all of our private communications. If safety is of the utmost importance during “this era of terrorism and mass killers,” then the NYPD must neglect the Bill of Rights’ position on discriminatory-based actions.
As a nation, we cannot support a procedure that unfairly targets citizens based on race while still treasuring our founding documents. These searches are invasive to the innocent citizens that the policy is meant to protect. Our decision on stop-and-frisk speaks to our American identity.
Eric Lynch ’14