I respectfully disagree that "stop and frisk" is unconstitutional because it violates due process and equal protection ("Unfair Bias Has Its Grip on Stop-and-Frisk," Aug. 20 Tony Norman column). In fact, the judge has only ruled that it was applied unfairly by the New York Police Department. But let's look at Mr. Norman's arguments.
Last time I checked 6 percent of the 4.4 million "stop and frisk" incidents over 10 years is 264,000 arrests. More important, 1.5 percent of 4.4 million is 66,000 weapons confiscated and removed from the streets. These are large numbers and tell me that this program is effective. Many of these arrests were probably repeat offenders and potentially violent criminals now back in the system. And don't discount the deterrent value of a surprise search for weapons.
Police departments target areas that are "high crime" using carefully collected data. This data shows that "high crime" areas in New York have a disproportionate number of minorities. This can be due to many things, many of which are not fair and may not be the fault of the residents. But that's another story. When police "stop and frisk" in areas predominantly occupied by minorities, it is no surprise that they net mostly minorities. It is unfair to charge "racial profiling" based on these criteria. I am guessing that most minority residents are happy for a police presence and would be willing to go along with any efforts aimed at curtailing violent crime spiraling out of control.
Police departments all over the country (and, by the way, there are many minorities on the New York City Police Department) overwhelmingly want this tool. In these times of sequestration and budget cuts, police departments are undermanned and outgunned. They need some support from the populations they protect to try to even the playing field with violent criminals.
I would agree that some guidance and discretion are necessary to prevent harassment that may come from exceptional power. Frequency of "stop and frisk" incidents can be generated for each officer, especially those who have a high frequency of complaints against them. Additional analysis should indicate if an officer is stopping people without cause. These officers should be disciplined.