What’s Next for NYC’s Stop and Frisk Program?


Gotham City may have to find a new way to fight crime after a district court judge rules that the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk practices violate both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The program, which resulted in 4.4 million stops since 2004, has come under fire for unfairly targeting blacks and Hispanics.

While stopping and even frisking suspicious individuals on New York City's streets may be an effective way to deter crime, the decision in Floyd v. NYC makes it clear that such programs cannot run afoul of basic constitutional protections, including equal treatment under the law and the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Under the precedent established in Terry v. Ohio, the Fourth Amendment allows the police to "stop and briefly detain a person for investigative purposes if the officer has a reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal activity 'may be afoot,' even if the officer lacks probable cause." To initiate a subsequent frisk, the police officer "must reasonably suspect that the person stopped is armed and dangerous."

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