The Unreasonable Practice: Stop and Frisk

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Stop and frisk is the act of police stopping an individual to briefly search for any illegal substances or concealed weapons. It is said that a stop and frisk needs to be processed when law enforcement is suspicious of an individual. By evaluating the themes of racial profiling and the rights of man, proof will be given on why stop and frisk should not become a nationwide policy. This is significant because not only is it an act of discrimination, but it also violates Amendments in the Constitution.

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Though it is not blatantly described this way, stop and frisk is a kind of police practice that invades the privacy of an individual. Police officers are able to search and seize someone without a logical explanation or proof of a valid warrant. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…” (US Const. Amend. IX).

This suggests that the security of a person should be protected against higher authority at all costs. With stop and frisk, police lack the requirement of a reason or warrant and say that the victim was involved in some kind of suspicious act to protect themselves.The people’s rights are secured by the 4th Amendment, which this practice is going against. With this said, stop and frisk should not be allowed at all, unless a warrant is present and there is solid proof that the person is involved in criminal activity. Stop and Frisk also goes by the phrase “Terry” stop. In the Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio (1968), the court sided that it was logical for the officer involved to search Terry on the street. Terry was pacing the outside of a store several times, which caught the attention of the officer to seize him on the spot without a warrant.

The officer argued that he had been watching Terry for several minutes and had assumed that he was involved in a suspicious act of misdemeanor activity, so that’s the reason for the search. “The Court clarified that even though Terry wasn’t technically in the position of a stop and frisk (to be pulled over), it was acceptable for the officer to search him based on “reasonable suspicion” of being involved in criminal conduct” (Rudovsky & Harris, 2018). In this light, the authors point out that the Court said that Terry was not in the position to be stopped and frisked. First of all, he was not in a vehicle to be stopped in, and the officer had invaded his privacy by watching him without his acknowledgment.

The majority of individuals who get stopped and frisked are people of color. With the thought of stereotypical backgrounds in mind, police officers target those who might be involved in criminal activities. “Stop and frisk has been linked to racial profiling since a number of law enforcement agencies created Stop, Question, and Frisk programs, that have high rates of stopping minority citizens more than white citizens” (Morrow, White, and Fredella, 2017). To bring attention that law enforcement agencies actually created a number of programs to focus on the minorities to pull over is appalling. In a world where people teach their children about equality, this statement shows that people to this day still aren’t accepting to every race, even people of higher authority that should be setting an example for those children. This practice by the law enforcement has a hidden pinch of racism involved. If race wasn’t a factor of stop and frisk, the number of caucasians pulled over to the number of people of color would not be so far apart.

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The Unreasonable Practice: Stop and Frisk. (2020, May 12). Retrieved from