Stop and Frisk Emerges as a Key Issue in 2016 Election

Many observers feel the NBC News’ Lester Holt unfairly targeted GOP candidate Donald Trump in this weeks debate, but in doing so, opened up the debate on the controversial law enforcement technique known as stop and frisk. Holt’s assertion that it was found unconstitutional by a federal judge drew this initial response from Trump:

“Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men,” Holt posed to Trump.

“No, you’re wrong,” Trump responded. “It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.”

Trump fairly was criticized for appearing unprepared for Monday night’s debate, but like on another inaccurate assertion on the economy by Holt, the question on stop and frisk was in his wheelhouse. As a lifelong New Yorker, Trump has his finger on the pulse of his city. Writes Andy McCarthy in National Review:


….cavalier claims are being made about stop-and-frisk – an investigative method in which police, upon observing suspicious behavior, stop a person to ask questions and pat the person down to check for weapons. While Trump endorses the practice, both Clinton and Lester Holt suggested that it has conclusively been found unconstitutional by the courts; and Clinton insists that it is also ineffective. The claims are based on a ruling by a single, agenda-driven judge (who was actually removed from the case, as Ed Whelan explained at the time). But, as Heather relates, the Supreme Court sanctioned stop-and-frisk in the 1960s, so “[n]o federal judge would have the power to declare pedestrian stops unconstitutional.” Moreover, Stop-and-frisk remains a lawful and essential police tactic. Criminologist David Weisburd examined the practice in New York City and found that it reduced crime in shooting hot spots. Federal district court judge Shira Scheindlin did rule that the New York Police Department’s practice of stops was racially biased, but her ruling applied only to the New York Police Department. That ruling was wholly unjustified and would likely have been reversed on appeal, had newly elected New York City mayor Bill de Blasio not dropped the appeal. Judge Scheindlin used a population benchmark for measuring the lawfulness of police actions: if police stops didn’t match population ratios, they were unconstitutional, in Scheindlin’s view. Such a methodology ignores the massive disparities in criminal offending in New York City. Blacks commit over three-quarters of all shootings, though they are 23 percent of the city’s population. Add Hispanic shootings to black shootings and you account for 98 percent of all shootings in New York City. Whites are 34 percent of the city’s population; they commit less than 2 percent of all shootings. Such disparities in gun violence mean that virtually every time the police are called out on a gun run—meaning that someone has been shot—they are called to minority neighborhoods on behalf of minority victims, and, if any witness or victim is cooperating with the police, being given a description of a minority suspect. The reality of crime, not phantom police racism, determines the incidence of police activity, including pedestrian stops. I will just add to this an observation about smug suggestions, mainly on the

Moreover, voters support stop and frisk according to Rasmussen:

Citing rising murder rates in several major cities, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump argues that police should be allowed to stop and frisk anyone on the street whom they consider suspicious. His Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and other opponents of such laws say that minorities are unfairly targeted. Voters are more supportive of stop and frisk laws but remain concerned that they may violate some Americans’ rights.

A friend made a comment to me this week that without the constitutionality of stop and frisk, the TSA wouldn’t be able to its job at the nation’s airports.

Aside from #NeverTrump’s absolutists and the hard left, Trump’s clear support for law enforcement and sober position on stop and frisk for the nation’s troubled cities resonates with voters. The same Rasmussen link indicates that voters have grown weary on Black Lives Matter, while still feeling the need for criminal justice reform. Hillary Clinton has no choice but to bow to the former while maintaining her ground against stop and frisk. Trump has suddenly found himself benefiting from a wedge issue that he can thank Lester Holt for delivering on a silver platter.




About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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