Stop and Frisk Theory and Racial Profiling

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Stop and frisk is the detention temporarily of a person and search their clothing based on specific, articulate facts that lead the police officer to have reasonable suspicious that the person is armed and dangerous. However, in the recent years, many people are arguing that stop and frisk are used to target minorities, because the numbers of people who are more stop and frisk by the police are Latinos and African-American. Therefore, stop and frisk are affecting the relationship between police and communities instead of protecting communities, this theory is terrorizing minorities.

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Stop and frisk is the detention temporarily of a person and search their clothing based on specific, articulate facts that lead the police officer to have reasonable suspicious that the person is armed and dangerous. The fact that this procedure gives to cops such a big power. If a stop is due should fit in the description of reasonable suspicious which can be for a dangerous weapon or weapons contraband. Based on the constitution the Fourth Amendment play a fundamental role of protecting people from illegal searches. Moreover, stop and frisk can be an exception of the fourth amendment if such a search is conducted in the right way which is if a police officer’s believes that the person is about to commit a crime or if the person already commit a crime or if the cop believes that the person is armed and dangerous for the public and the officer. When a person gets stop doesn’t mean that the person is under arrest, its different from an arrest, however its interference with a person’s liberty. A stop can only be used for just 20 minutes, if the stops take longer than that can be a violation of the Fourth amendment. An arrest is another process that takes longer because the police have to take that person to the precinct and booked.

Which people gets more stop by the police?

Furthermore, there is many statistics and proof that points about who are getting stop the most of this theory. As we know this theory of stop and frisk was mostly used to fight crimes in Los Angeles and New York City. Mentioned that those cities are higher in percentages of black and Latinos communities, who are the poor working class and live in poor neighborhoods. A survey by the NYCLU revealed that more than 5 million times since 2002 innocent New Yorker’s have been affected by then police stops and interrogations. Mentioned that nine out of ten stops are being used against innocent New Yorker’s. Therefore, if we say that in New York city Latinos and black are 23 percent and 29 percent of the population and 84 percent of the stop who has been made are against black and Latinos resident. It’s a clear look that most of these innocent stops by the police are made based on race, which is a violation of the fourth and fourth teen Amendment because there is not reasonable suspicious that the person is going to commit a crime, or the person is armed.

Racial Profiling

Moreover, racial profiling comes out to play in Stop and Frisk theory. The US Constitution gives the protection to all citizens to have the same equal treatment under the law. However, racial profiling as well as religion, ethnicity and nationality are being subject of abused even though the constitution provides a guarantee of equal treatment. Hispanics and African-Americans are excessive likely to be stopped and searched by an officer, even so they can be innocent of being armed or committing a criminal act. This is why police distrust comes around and communities are scared of the police. As soon as the police target communities based on race, religion and nationality and not behavior, the relationship of police and communities can have a negative effective crime fighting and police distrust.

Morins on his book talks about police abuse and violence against Latinos communities. He mentioned that people of color are most often seen as perpetrators of crime. But why this happens? Maybe because they are poor, they live in a low-income area and they are black and Latino (Morin 61). A case that demonstrated the injustice and miscounted of police discrimination against African-Americans and Latinos is State v. Pedro Soto of New Jersey, which the case was concluded that the New Jersey state police was found engaged in unlawful racial profiling. This type of racial profiling happens every day and many people are scared to say something. It is hard to say, but this kind of police practice, it’s not going to keep our city safe. It just making things worst (Morins 63). Our society deserves to live free of danger, free of crimes and harm. However, sometimes it’s tough for Latinos and African- American to live in a place, that physical appearance its an issue for others. We all deserve the same equal treatment regardless of physical appearance, so people can walk on the street and spend time outside without harassment from the law enforcement (Garcia. A pg. 37) New York’s blacks and Latinos should not face the “choice” of living in areas of high crime or living in areas where they are targets of police harassment, surveillance, and scrutiny.

Stop and frisk worth it?

As a result, do stop and frisk worth it? Stop and frisk it’s created to take guns out of the street. It is used to get information to solve crimes contraband and many other criminal activities. Also, is a theory that sends a message to law breakers and criminals that they can be pat-down at any moment, so it prevents crimes. We all know that crimes have been dropping down drastically since the 1990s in New York city and Los Angeles. However, its being causing a lot of harm to poor communities, which incarcerated many young kids and ruin their lives. During a 15-month period spanning 1998 and part of 1999, police in the city had made at least 175,000 stops. (Bergner. D pg. 57). It’s well known that most of these stops are racial profiling by the police against Hispanic and blacks. Which cause to the city problems because the city has to face demands against people who are tired of the police and don’t trust them. The fact that cops only used racial profiling as an argument to stop, they already do their work badly by focusing on innocent people who at the end doesn’t solve anything. These police meet generally represents a significant challenge for the judges. Causing judges for many months, or even years to hear cases between cops and suspects, to decide if the stop was constitutionally legal and thus whether the evidence was legally obtained, to use in court. The stop and frisk theory, it’s such a big power for police that it meant to protect communities, but his power is abused by the law enforcement.

4th Amendments Rights

Moreover, being stopped without reasonable suspicious violates the 4h Amendment, but being stopped and frisked violates citizens’ rights. The most important case and the one who brings stop and frisk theory is Terry v. Ohio. This case is about Terry and two other African-American men who were observed by an undercover officer that believed to be “casing a job, a stickup.” The officer stopped and frisked Terry and the two other men and found weapons on two of them. Terry went to trial and was found guilty of possession of a weapon and sentenced to three years in prison. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), was a United States Supreme Court case, which held that the Fourth Amendment prohibit any unlawful searches and seizures, if the police officers stops a person on the street and frisk him with probable cause the officer it’s not committing a violation of the Fourth Amendment. However, if the cop doesn’t have any reasonable suspicious that the person is about to commit a crime, the stop is a violation of the 4th Amendment. This case brings what is call “Terry Stop” which is Stop and Frisk.

Other cases that led to a violation of the fourth amendments are Arizona V. Johnson, Illinois V. Wardlow, Floyd, et al. V. City of New York, Florida V. J.L.

Floyd, et al. V. City of New York

Floyd, et al. V. City of New York, it’s one of the most important racial profiling cases in New York city that involves stop and frisk and the Fourth Amendment violations against blacks and Hispanics communities. This case represents a mass of Latinos and blacks who had been stopped by the police without probable cause. Innocent teenagers that were stopped on the way to school, home or work. The Floyd case was arguing that racial profiling was in issued on communities which some Street Crime Unit was using this tactic. The way police encounter innocent people without any reason. The lack of reasonable suspicious of making stops, which violate the fourth amendment. Also, that the percentage of people who were mostly stopped by the police were African-American and Latinos, which constitutionally violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This case ends up in favor of the people. By saying that the police department had violated the Fourth Amendment under the unreasonable searches and the Fourth teen amendment by concluding that stops and frisk is a racially discriminatory way.

Arizona V. Johnson

Arizona V. Johnson is a very important case that brings illegal search. Lemon Johnson was in the back seat of a car when he got stop by the state police in Sugar, Hill, Arizona. The officer asks for his license without saying for what reason he had being stopped, the officer checks his license and find that Johnson had a “mandatory insurance suspension” Despite the fact of the illegal stop, the stop was solely predicated on the suspended license, the officer start to interrogate and asking questions to the passengers of the car, including Johnson, about gangs activities in the area. After, the officer stops asking questions to the occupant of the car, taking advantage of Johnson suspension he asks Johnson and the other occupants to step out of the car, so he can question him further. Although Johnson can refuse to get out of the car, he voluntarily exited. The policeman searches him, and the officer revealed a weapon and small amount of marijuana. Likewise, the evidence that was obtained on the car search by the police officer, was used in court to convict Johnson of (1) the unlawful possession of a weapon as a prohibit processor and (2) possession of marijuana. The conviction was reversed because the court found that the officers had no reason to believe that Johnson was involved in any criminal activity when he was searched. The Court states that the stop was illegal and unconstitutional because probable cause didn’t exist.

Illinois V. Wardlow

Illinois V. Wardlow, this case is about Sam Wardlow, a man who got stopped and frisked by two officers because he was running in a place known for heavy narcotics trafficking. After the officers conduct a pat down against Wardlow, the police found a .38 caliber handgun on him. The officers arrested Wardlow after finding the weapon on his person. In the trial the defendant argues that the court should suppress the gun because his stop and search and seizure was unconstitutional. The officers stop Wardlow and arrest him without a specific reason of why the stop was necessary. Moreover, the officer’s argument was that the time and place where Wardlow was stopped, gives the cops enough reasonable suspicious to think that he was about to commit a crime. At the end, the Illinois Appellate Court went in favor of Wardlow mentioned that the officer did not have reasonable suspicious to make the stop. This case, it’s another violation of police against people’s rights.

Florida V. J.L

Another case, that fit under the Fourth Amendment violation against citizen its Florida V. J.L. On October 13, 1995 Miami- Dade police get anonymous information that a black male wearing a plaid shirt was standing near a bus stop with a gun. After the anonymous tip two officers responded found three black males, one was J.L who was wearing a plaid shirt. After the two officers frisk them, they found a gun on J.L, which later on was charged with carrying a gun without a license. At the trial, J.L side argues that the evidence obtains by the officers should be suppressed, because the frisking performed by the officers was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment violation.

Following this, these cases were shown to the people that stops cannot be made because of our appearances and from where we come from. Our bill of rights gives protection to citizens, as is stated in the Fourth Amendment that provided security of property from illegal searches and seizure without the exception of probable cause.

Stop and Frisk Genders Factors

Furthermore, stop and frisk theory has a big impact on genders too. It is reasonable to believe that a male can be more stop than a female. Statistic shows that that male suspects (83.7 per cent) are more likely to be stopped by the police than female suspects (7.1 per cent).Mentioned that we can say that even tough woman are less likely to be stopped by the police, many women have been subject of police harassment. According to Solis female respondents often also note that there is a sexualized component to their encounter with police.

Do Stop and Frisk really works?

As a matter of fact, its stop and frisk a successful theory? Stop and Frisk haven been unsuccessful because this theory gives to cop a big power that they can abuse against citizen and violates their human rights. I believe there can be other ways that police can do their work by keeping communities safe and keep up a peaceful relationship with the people around them. In my opinion, there are many police officers who are doing their work fine in making their assignments, however, it seems as a bad reputation for the NYPD police department if police are doing the wrong thing by stopping at lots of people that aren’t criminals and don’t have any records with the police, so this innocent people how to suffer for being stopped and treated as a criminal. Moreover, it’s a reality that stop and frisk can be used to torture people. The New York city police department has operated stop and frisk as a form of terror on African-American and Hispanic communities (Butler. P pg. 8). “In 2012, the New York published an article about Tyquan Brehon, an African- American male who claimed that he had been “Unjustifiably stopped by the police more than sixty times” before he turned eighteen years old. Brehon explains that he “did whatever he could to avoid the police, often feeling as if he were a prisoner in his home”. Allowing stop and frisk to like that it’s insane. Many people just like Brehon tells the same story in which they feel scary to say something. This statement shows that this strategy, it’s an arm that it’s being used to create fear in the society instead of protecting society from crimes. Therefore, people are scared and angry when things like that happens in their communities, making them believe that the criminal justice system is not working for the people and they are just trying to incarcerate young Black and Latinos kids, to ruin their life.

In addiction David R. Jones says that their it’s enough evidences that police are targeting people of color to stop and frisk operations. In 2010, the police had made more than 600,000 stops, in where more than 80 percent are Blacks and Latinos, many of them were young men. Most of them were stopped frequently over the course of the year by the police. However, the data of stop and frisk shows that there are millions of stops going on in the country and 9 out of 10 of those stops was not effective because there was not accused of any crime or violation. In 2010, blacks accounted for 22.8% of the population, Latinos 28.6%, and whites, 33.3% (United States Census Bureau, 2013). Even though Latinos and blacks are the lowest percentage of the population the police insist stops are based on crime victims, but there it’s a big percentage of stops against Latinos and Blacks. It is relevant that blacks and Latinos engage in more suspicious behavior, maybe that’s the reason cops used reasonable suspicious to stop them.

Moreover, it is necessary to have a law enforcement policy that can help our law enforcement agency, so our communities become safer. Cops work for the people and to build a safer environment for everybody. It is a fact that minorities are the ones who suffered the most by officers who are just focusing by race, color and ethnicity. Officers who used that type of think are the ones who violates the people’s rights. The law should be applied in the same way for everyone, without abuse of power, many NYPD officers are using their power in a negative way.

Furthermore, stop and frisk were mainly started to use in the 1990s, when crimes were very high. The Stop and Frisk theory was a program that modifies the broken windows theory. This theory is mostly known by the criminal justice system that if police maintain the order targeting minor crimes on the street, would make a big difference because it would reduce serious crime. In other words, the broken window theory, it is maintaining order to prevent serious crime to happen. This theory its very similar to stop and frisk, which is to maintain communities’ safes by preventing small crimes, so bigger crime wouldn’t occur.


The NYPD has been doing a great job reducing crimes in our communities. However, stop and frisk policy has become a problem for many people in the city. Stop and frisk policy it’s a great way to combat crimes, but many people may have the question of; why most of the stop and frisk search and seizures are against Latinos and Blacks?


  1. Bergner, D. (2014). Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It? Retrieved from
  2. Butler, P. (2014). Stop and Frisk and Torture-Lite: Police Terror of Minority Communities. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 12(1), 57–69.
  3. Garcia, A. (2013). Stop-and-Frisk: The Policing of Latinos In New York. NACLA Report on the Americas, 46(4), 37-38.
  4. How to End Stop-and-Frisk Abuses. (2012, May 24). New York Times (1923-Current File), p. A30.
  5. Mori?n, J. L. (2009). Latino/a Rights and Justice in the United States: Perspectives and Approaches. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.
  6. Solis, C., Portillos, E., & Brunson, R. (2009). Latino Youths’ Experiences with and Perceptions of Involuntary Police Encounters. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 623, 39-51.
  7. Toobin, J. (2013). Rights and Wrongs. New Yorker, 89(15), 36.
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Stop and Frisk Theory and Racial Profiling. (2021, May 10). Retrieved from