Re: Bloomberg's Stop and Frisk program overturned
posted at 8/14/2013 6:03 PM EDT
In response to WhatDoYouWantNow's comment:
In response to miscricket's comment:
The other day, a federal judge ruled New York's "stop and frisk" program unconstitutional. Thoughts? I tend to feel strongly about probable cause and don't think the police should be able to stop and frisk at will.
Technical note: Under a Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio
, the police need something less than probable cause to stop you. It's called "reasonable suspicion based on articulable facts," in other words, the cop needs to be able to say something about you that gave him reasonable suspicion to believe you had committed, were committing, or are about to commit a crime if
you are challenging the stop.
That's a stop. The frisk is if the have the same level of suspicion that you have a weapon or otherwise pose a danger t othe cop.
In reality, you only find yourself in such a position if the cop detected an illegality and you are now trying to suppress whatever evidence he found. Also in reality, this means you are a criminal. This means that 99.999% judge will believe whatever the cop says. On top of this, the judge won't have what you the defendant have to say because you aren't going to testify at a suppression hearing. The reason for that is that the prosecutor can question you about the crime charged, and the risk is that you will sink your own case before trial by saying something at the suppression hearing.
All that adds up to mean that the cop can illegally stop and frisk whoever the cop pleases - provided the cop is not being filmed. If the person has nothing, the cop lets them go. Could they sue? If the had the cash for the fees and wanted to do it on principle. In reality, they don't.
And of course, if the cop finds something, well the cop's word is going to stand up unless you have undeniable documantary proof that the cop lied.
(tidbit: A colleague once challenged a stop. At the suppression hearing, the cop kept insisting his suspicion was based on the fact that the defendant made "furtive movements." Eventually, my colleague asked: "officer, using words, define 'furtive movement'". The cop had no idea what it meant. He just knew his colleagues used it because it got judges to uphold searches.
"Furtive movement" = quick, nervous movements. Think of a mouse scavenging.)
Getting back to the program: This is the central problem with it. It made cops' existing illegal behavior a matter of policy.
Of course, people rarely care about this. It's just criminals and druggies with their EBT cards getting their constitutional rights violated - middle aged white dude isn't getting stopped & frisked - so who cares...
Thanks for that info. This morning I was thinking that "probable cause" was probably not the right term..but wasn't sure what the proper term was..lol
I guess this is my major concern. I work in an inner city and hear the stories all the time from clients who get pulled over ..or stopped for no reason. It seems to me that this law made it easier for police to do this..or actually..the way you put it..legitimized the behavior.
I think it's important for people to remember that we have constitutional rights in this country. A program that's considered a "success"...but is at the expense of our rights is no success..it is a step towards a police state.