Stop and Frisk: Beyond Terry v. Ohio

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The 1969 Supreme Court decision in Terry v Ohio carved out an exception in regards to the 4th Amendment prohibition on unreasonable search and seizures. Essentially law enforcement official were allowed to “pat down,” or “frisk” without probable cause, someone they had stopped whom they suspected may have committed a crime or may be about to commit a crime.

In 2002 the New York Police Department began a concentrated effort to get guns off the streets and slow down violent crime. To help accomplish this they went on an extensive “Stop and Frisk” campaign that lasted for years. As you might suspect, both advocates and critics of the policy pointed to varying statistics or anecdotal evidence showing that the program was either successful or not successful.
You read one perspective in “The Inverse Relationship Between the Constitutionality and Effectiveness of New York City ‘Stop and Frisk’”(Jeffrey Bellin, Boston University Law Review). Now, share your point of view. Choose one of the questions below to respond to. You must include citation from the Bellin article in your response:
1. Does the way in which the New York City police department used the Terry v. Ohio decision keep faith with the original intent of the Supreme Court ruling? Why or why not?
2. If it can be shown that the way the New York City police department used the Terry v Ohio ruling actually resulted in the reduction of gun crime, does that justify the actions taken by the police? Why or why not?
3. The NYPD recorded an extremely high number of stops in some years. Is it possible some were legal and some were not? If so, how can you tell them apart?
4. If an officer knows that the stop and frisk campaign is illegal, but also knows that it will save lives, how should he make an ethical decision about whether or not to participate?
Respond to two classmates who chose to post about two different questions than you did. Do you agree with their point of view? Why or why not?

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