If New York City stop, question & frisk policy is appropriate…

I know there are technical differences between New York’s stop, question and frisk policy and Arizona’s SB 1070, but are you wondering why the Obama administration’s Justice Department is actually suing Arizona, and not saying a word about the NYPD policy?

From a John Jay College of Criminal Justice paper on Stop, Question and Frisk, with my emphasis in bold.

Every day in New York City, and in cities around the country, police officers stop, question, and sometimes frisk people as part of their routine patrol duties. Police stops occur in a variety of places—on city sidewalks, outside apartment buildings, and in the subway. People are stopped on their way to work, coming home from school, on their lunch break; they may be alone or accompanied by family or friends. From the perspective of New York City police officials, these stops are essential to maintaining public safety. From the perspective of many citizens who are stopped by officers, the encounters are intrusive and unwarranted.

The United States Supreme Court established a legal basis for officers to stop, question, and frisk citizens in its 1968 decision in the case of Terry v. Ohio. In the Terry case, a veteran police officer observed three men engaging in conduct that he concluded might be indicative of “casing” a store for the purpose of committing a robbery. When he approached the men to ask them questions, the response from one of them was incoherent. Fearing that the men might be armed, the officer grabbed hold of one of them and “patted” him down. The pat-down revealed that the man was carrying a gun.

The Terry decision permits police officers to stop and detain a person based on a “reasonable suspicion” that s/he might be about to commit a crime or is in the process of committing a crime. As such it represents a modification of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures granted to private individuals in the Bill of Rights.

The Arizona law – a.k.a. SB 1070 – was originally based on lawful contact with citizens, and I think it was needlessly clarified at some point to be based on a lawful stop, detention or arrest. In short, Arizona law requires there be a lawful reason for law enforcement to to stop someone. As an example, speeding, illegal u-turns, broken tail lights, an expired registration, or conduct that might be indicative of casing a store for the purpose of committing a robbery would all be lawful reasons to stop someone.

The Arizona law gives law enforcement the ability to determine a person’s immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien. If there is reasonable suspicion, law enforcement cannot release the person until the federal government has confirmed the immigration status of the detainee.

Of course, the popular theme in the lefty world is that the Arizona law is racist and gives cops the ability to pull over or stop people who “look Mexican.” Let there be no doubt, feigned charges of racism is the reason – the only reason – we saw protests in Arizona and calls for boycotts throughout the southwest. Not one protester was out there claiming only the federal government could enforce immigration laws, yet the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder did not bring suit against Arizona on grounds of racism, rather they claim only the feds can enforce immigration laws.

Once again, I guaranty you … if you ask 100 people opposed to Arizona’s SB 1070, 95 or more will state the law is discriminatory and that’s the reason why Obama is suing. Ask those same 95 about New York’s stop, question and frisk policy why Obama is not suing New York, and enjoy the silence.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. phil on May 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Constitution?? What Constitution?

  2. Dimsdale on May 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Selective or preferred enforcement of the law is not equal protection, is it?

  3. Tim-in-Alabama on May 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    It’s okay for NYPD to do that as long as they don’t spy on Muslims.

  4. stinkfoot on May 15, 2012 at 5:49 am

    Perhaps tightening Arizona’s border with Mexico would complicate the administration’s desire for American made weapons to find their way into the hands of Mexican drug cartel members in order to be used against American citizens furnishing justification to do away with the second amendment.

  5. Mark on May 15, 2012 at 7:21 am

    What the heck constitutes “reasonable suspicion”? What’s the yard stick? Could be being white in a black neighborhood constitute reasonable suspicion? I think you could make an argument that it’s impossible for someone to know what’s reasonable. Surely what’s “reasonable” in Topeka may not be in Washington, DC, or NYC.?

    • Lynn on May 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      Actually, nothing is reasonable in Washington D.C. That I can see.

  6. SeeingRed on May 15, 2012 at 8:57 am

    The actual question is ‘why’ the difference?? Probable cause of course.? If OhZer0 turns the stink eye on NYC, Nanny B might cost him some votes.

  7. JBS on May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    More distraction from the Regime. Obama still remains the problem!


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