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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Supreme Court Ruling Allowed Police To Get More Aggressive

A Supreme Court ruling allowed police to get more aggressive
The New York Daily News by Eugene O'Donnell - April 11, 2012
  • Previously, police had to wait for probable cause to stop a suspect
  • Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is looking into stop and frisk policies by the NYPD
American police officers for years were severely restricted in their efforts to stop street crime. A suspicious person following an elderly woman home could be watched, but could only be confronted when the police had probable cause; this meant the cops might have to wait until the lady was mugged to intervene. In 1968 the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a less restrictive standard: reasonable suspicion. It allowed the police, when suspicious of someone, to stop, question and, if necessary for the safety of the officers, frisk that person. This opened the door to proactive policing — and the development of specialized NYPD units to stop criminals before they could act. The NYPD’s use of “stop and frisk” was greatly expanded in the murderous early 1990s in an effort to confiscate illegal guns and stop street crime. In recent years, the NYPD has dramatically increased the number of stops, to more than 700,000 annually. Police brass defend the practice, pointing to huge drops in violent and nonviolent crimes. But critics maintain that the impact falls heavily on minority New Yorkers. O’Donnell, professor of law and police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is a former police officer and prosecutor.

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