The stop and frisk policy

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Law enforcement officials and the stop and frisk policy

Law enforcement officials in the United States have utilized the stop and frisk policy to temporarily detain and search a person on the basis of a reasonable suspicion that they are committing or about to commit a crime. The Terry v. Ohio, 392. US1, 30 (1968) case, in which the supreme court justified a police officer's right to stop and search a citizen based on a reasonable suspicion that the individual is most likely to engage in criminal activity, is one legal argument in favor of the stop and frisk policy's constitutionality (Wilson, 2014). The argument supports the need for improved national security and protection of the United States citizens at all cost. National security is a significant challenge in the United States based on threats from terrorist groups. In most cases, it is unpredictable by just looking at a person as to whether they are in the process of acting criminally or are planning to engage in an activity that is not sanctioned by the law. The stop and frisk provision enhances the capacity of the state officers to strengthen the status of security in the country.

Opposing Argument

The usage of the stop and frisk policy has however led to the development of a polarized discussion in the United States on balance between effective law enforcement and civil liberty. One of the legal arguments on the stop and frisk policy involves the Floyd v. New York (Rudovsky & Rosenthal, 2013), which identified that the practice has resulted in racial profiling through targeting racially defined groups especially the African-Americans (Wilson, 2014). Therefore, the widespread argument against the stop and frisk policy is its connection to increasing racial discrimination in the United States and increased protests for police brutality in the African-American neighborhoods. Racial discrimination is a significant problem in the United States and such practices such as racially informed stop and frisk by the police increases the rift among races. In most cases, people of Arab origin are often required to undergo frisking by the authorities while the whites who may be more dangerous, are exempted.

Constitutional Argument

The argument against the stop and frisk policy based on the ruling by District Judge Shira Scheindlin is the most constitutionally sound based on the police officers prejudice. Searching a citizen focusing primarily on their race is discriminatory and reduces the effectiveness of the policy in achieving its objectives. In Floyd v New York City, the ruling criticized the argument proposed by the city that African-Americans and Hispanic populations should be stopped more based on their criminal suspect population (Rudovsky & Rosenthal, 2013). That in itself was discriminatory against the two races. Furthermore, according to the provisions of the Fourth Amendment, all citizens are protected against irrational searches and captures. The provision provides the criterion for constitutionality. Stopping citizens because of their identity to a specific group leads to the violation of the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the stop and frisk policy has been associated with police bias, violence, and misconduct leading to the unconstitutional attachment to the practice. For instance, Michael Brown's shooting in 2014, led to the development of social media campaigns such as Black Lives Matter Movement to help in the reconstruction of the legal and constitutional infrastructure to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement in the United States (Wilson, 2014).


Rudovsky, D., & Rosenthal, L. (2013). Debate: The constitutionality of stop-and-frisk in New York City. Penn Law. Retrieved 30 November 2017 from

Wilson, A. (2014). Good Stop/Bad Stop (and Frisk) | Civil Rights Litigation | ABA Section of Litigation. Retrieved 29 November 2017, from

March 15, 2023

Government Crime


Politics Law Enforcement

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