Can You Frisk and Still Maintain Trust?

“In my school of policing, good cops are able to stop and frisk suspects without causing anger and resentment. Is that still valid measure of officer effectiveness?”

Years ago, I learned as a young officer that “stopping and frisking” a person or persons was an invasion of their private space — a potential affront. That’s why we say “sorry” when we accidentally bump into someone on the bus!

When my search resulted in nothing warranting an arrest, I always made it a practice to thank the person for his or her their cooperation and said “sorry” to have had to detain them. Is that what we are teaching police today? I hope so, for it is how police in a free society should operate.

Prof. Gary Cordner recently posted a recent study on his site, “Modern Policing” that confirms what i thought about being stopped and searched by police.

A  new study published by the National Academies of Science.The research found that street stops of adolescent boys of color cause them psychological distress and lead to increased delinquent behavior.

The study followed a sample of black and Latino 9th and 10th graders from 6 high schools in one city over an 18-month period. Of the sample, 40% reported experiencing at least one street stop during the study period.

Those stopped were not more likely to have self-reported prior delinquency, but subsequently did report more distress and more delinquency.

The findings “suggest that police stops are associated with harmful outcomes for young boys in … [high crime areas], and that they may be even more harmful when they occur earlier in boys’ lives.”

Sometimes my mind wanders into the realm of “what if?” I think about a community meeting with local police officers and parents of children of color as we sit around a table and talk about enforcement strategies like “stop and frisk,” building trust and a safer neighborhoods. What would we agree about the practice of stopping and frisking?

Listening to these voices, which is so often unheard or dismissed, could bring about the collaborative future for which I hope we all yearn.

In my school of policing, good cops are able to stop and frisk suspects without causing anger and resentment. Is that still valid measure of officer effectiveness?


  1. Why would you stop and frisk anyone in the first place?

    Would you even consider stopping and frisking Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, any wealthy celebrity?

    If you worked in a wealthy suburb would you stop and frisk people in suit coats or with expensive jewelry?

    I’m sure the answer is probable cause, but this should be rare if it happens at all. And, in practice, there’s no doubt that it’s designed to target poor people not white collar criminals that create policies that drive the working class in to desperation in many cases.

    This is an authoritarian tactic designed to give one class of people more privileges than the vast majority of the public and when the working class people see they don’t get treated the same way as those rigging the economic system they know police aren’t there to “protect and serve” everyone equally!

    The bill of rights clearly doesn’t apply to all people equally, if it applies to working class people at all; otherwise this would be obvious.


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