Increase in random street searches is troubling

It's happening more and more in America's big cities. It must stop now.

Advertisement

"A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson, the nation's third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence, was right. And that unbending stand for liberty has served the United States well for over two centuries.

Yet, that liberty is being eroded day by day. Police in America's major cities have taken to the street to stop and frisk more than a million people a year simply because they might be criminals. There has been a sharp increase in the practice since 2002, according to research conducted The Associated Press. Most of those who are stopped are black or Latino men.

Last year, New York City Police stopped 531,159 people -- 51 percent black and 32 percent Latino not;≠ -- for no reason other than to see if they might have weapons, drugs or stolen goods. That's more than five times the number of such stops that occured only seven years ago. In Philadelphia, the number of street stops doubled to more than 200,000 from 2007 to 2008.

The number of arrests vary. New York said its arrest rate is about 10 percent while Los Angeles claims a 30 percent arrest rate.

All are thrilled with their results and point to the practice -- termed stop-and-frisk -- as a major reason crime rates are down.

Maybe? Maybe not?

The fact is police in these cities are taking many other actions, most of them far more sophisticated and expensive. Police like this approach because it is easy.

But it has a high price beyond dollars. A huge number of law-abiding citizens feel violated by this unwarranted stop-and-frisk practice. In New York last year 450,000 innocent people were humiliated or worse simply because police said they had a "reasonable suspicion" -- we call that a hunch -- that they were criminals.

Yet, few of us are outraged -- particularly in small cities and towns such as Walla Walla, Waitsburg and Dayton -- because it is not our liberty that is being violated, it's their liberty.

At the rate this practice is increasing, it could start happening in small cities. Them could be us.

Now is the time to say enough is enough.

It's simply wrong for the police to stop and frisk people on the street because they look "suspicious" -- they are black or Latino or wearing a strange hat.

Thomas Jefferson and our Founding Fathers wouldn't have stood for this. Neither should we.

"A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson, the nation's third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence, was right. And that unbending stand for liberty has served the United States well for over two centuries.

Yet, that liberty is being eroded day by day. Police in America's major cities have taken to the street to stop and frisk more than a million people a year simply because they might be criminals. There has been a sharp increase in the practice since 2002, according to research conducted The Associated Press. Most of those who are stopped are black or Latino men.

Last year, New York City Police stopped 531,159 people -- 51 percent black and 32 percent Latino not;≠ -- for no reason other than to see if they might have weapons, drugs or stolen goods. That's more than five times the number of such stops that occured only seven years ago. In Philadelphia, the number of street stops doubled to more than 200,000 from 2007 to 2008.

The number of arrests vary. New York said its arrest rate is about 10 percent while Los Angeles claims a 30 percent arrest rate.

All are thrilled with their results and point to the practice -- termed stop-and-frisk -- as a major reason crime rates are down.

Maybe? Maybe not?

The fact is police in these cities are taking many other actions, most of them far more sophisticated and expensive. Police like this approach because it is easy.

But it has a high price beyond dollars. A huge number of law-abiding citizens feel violated by this unwarranted stop-and-frisk practice. In New York last year 450,000 innocent people were humiliated or worse simply because police said they had a "reasonable suspicion" -- we call that a hunch -- that they were criminals.

Yet, few of us are outraged -- particularly in small cities and towns such as Walla Walla, Waitsburg and Dayton -- because it is not our liberty that is being violated, it's their liberty.

At the rate this practice is increasing, it could start happening in small cities. Them could be us.

Now is the time to say enough is enough.

It's simply wrong for the police to stop and frisk people on the street because they look "suspicious" -- they are black or Latino or wearing a strange hat.

Thomas Jefferson and our Founding Fathers wouldn't have stood for this. Neither should we.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment