Stop And Frisk: Criminal?
Much has been made this past week over the police tactic called “stop and frisk.” Implemented in New York and other big cities, “SAF” the practice of random questioning and searching pedestrians and drivers in high crime areas. The idea is similar to the roadblocks we sometimes see set up down our way: by checking everyone, criminals who have been hiding in plain sight can be winnowed from the general population.
Naturally, there has been all kinds of pushback against these programs. Civil liberties folks don’t like the idea of police intrusion without probable cause. Civil rights advocates claim the efforts are racially targeted. The argument that certain populations commit more crimes than others is a thorny one that can wait for another column.
The biggest argument against “SAF” is that it hasn’t been shown to be very effective. While a modest drop in crime has been seen, plenty of other factors could have contributed to the improvement. Simply having more police in an area can make a difference. The higher rates of employment, even in inner cities, has helped. The Trump Administration’s investment in “enterprise zones” to attract businesses into distressed areas has also been a factor.
The political argument has been over whether it was a good thing to support “SAF” and other crime prevention programs like Rudy Giuliani’s “broken windows” policy. Like most government programs, these were applied from the top down, without much input from the stakeholders. Sure, the people who live in high-crime areas want to feel safe like anyone else. But nobody asked them if intrusive police presence was the best way to go about things. Often, the end results were worse, with less trust in law enforcement.
We see similar things happening with the “sanctuary city” movement. Politicians on the Left are actively providing havens for immigrants, INCLUDING those who have committed all kinds of crimes, often against their own countrymen. Those on the Right are taking a heavy-handed approach, making even legal immigrants worry about being deported. Neither side asked what the people themselves want. I’m guessing the answers will differ from place to place.
No crime prevention method can be effective without the trust and active involvement of the people who live in the affected area. Most police departments already know this. All these local drug busts we see paraded in the paper didn’t happen because the GBI went in with guns blazing…local people on the ground provided critical information to help the investigations. We are fortunate to have local police and sheriff departments who seem to understand that.
Only when police and communities work together can we find an answer to crime.
Stop And Frisk: Criminal?