Bill de Blasio, Black Lives Matter Freddie Gray, D/S/Cs, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Brown, Rudolph Guliani, stop and frisk, Terry Stops
Political campaigns are a dirty business, but they sometimes provide an opportunity to clarify necessary and interesting issues. One such is occasioned by the candidacy of Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire trying to buy his way to the presidency. Bloomberg is the former mayor of New York City who, during his term in office, continued the anti-crime/pro-citizen policies of Rudolph Guliani. As a result, New York, for a time, continued to be a relatively safe place. Under the tender ministrations of D/S/Cs like Bill de Blasio, New York is once again becoming a cesspool of crime and degradation.
One of the policies, which really isn’t—I’ll explain shortly—that played a substantial role in making NYC safe was “stop and frisk,” which has, sadly, become a political football. John Hinderaker at Powerline explains:
Last night, a liberal leaked the audio of a talk that Michael Bloomberg gave to the Aspen Institute in 2015. The audio apparently was recorded surreptitiously and the quality isn’t good. Reportedly there is a video recording, but Bloomberg has blocked it from being released. You can listen to the audio here, along with left-wing palaver about it.
These are the quotes that everyone is talking about. Bloomberg’s subject was crime and policing:
95 percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, sixteen to twenty-five. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city.
And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed. You want to spend the money on a lot of cops on the streets. Put the cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods.
[The] way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the walls and frisk them… And then they start… ‘Oh, I don’t want to get caught.’ So they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.
As one might imagine, Bloomberg, who identified as a Republican during his mayoral tenure but is now running as a Democrat—sort of, and as long as it’s useful—is now singing a different tune. One cannot be a D/S/C without hating the police, loving criminals, and denouncing rational American values. Accordingly, with the timely/timed release of Bloomberg’s five year-old comments, Bloomberg is being denounced by D/S/Cs as a racist, and stop and frisk is again a D/S/C bugaboo.
Hinderaker—take the link and read his entire article—notes that while Bloomberg’s numbers were not entirely accurate, his tactics while NYC mayor were effective. There is no question stop and frisk, used with focused police presence in high crime areas, is effective in reducing crime rates, and particularly the rate of violent crimes.
It is interesting to note that the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the Michael Brown and Freddie Gray cases, has caused D/S/Cs to demonize the police, claiming they exist primarily to murder young black men. The result has been a near complete withdrawal of police resources from black, high crime neighborhoods, freeing black criminals to prey, unrestrained, on the very peoples and neighborhoods D/S/Cs profess to so love. Black Americans are noticing this and will likely vote for Donald Trump in record numbers in 2020.
This dangerous trend has also resulted in D/S/C politicians treating stop and frisk as though it is a policy rather than a necessary power/tactic of any effective police force. Branding it a policy, D/S/Cs are able to claim it an evil, racist/Republican strategy, and banish it/them by claiming it racist. “Why,” they say, “most of the people stopped and frisked in high crime (black) areas aren’t carrying weapons, so it must be racist!”
As Hinderaker notes, President Trump jumped on the “Bloomberg is a racist” bandwagon with a tweet that was soon taken down. However, the false charges, primarily by D/S/Cs, will likely have an effect:
Third, what does this story mean for Bloomberg’s presidential chances? I think it deals them a severe blow. Bloomberg’s only real asset is money, and money (above a reasonable level) is relatively unimportant in contemporary politics. Bloomberg is not a persona that intuitively relates well to African-Americans. Trump has much more inherent appeal to that demographic, and today’s ‘scandal’ would cause Bloomberg to hemorrhage black voters to Trump, should he get the nomination. In the shorter term, race-based attacks on Bloomberg will cost him quite a few votes among the ‘woke’ whites who dominate most Democratic primaries.
In short, the Democrats’ already desperate presidential hopes suffered another blow today, if you assume that Bloomberg was ever a viable candidate.
This is an issue I’d addressed before, but let us quickly review the reality of “stop and frisk,” also known as “Terry stops,” for the 1968 Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio.
Terry is taught in every basic law enforcement academy. It is not a D/S/C or Republican policy, but an essential part of effective policing. To understand it, however, we must refer to the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Most don’t realize that even the lowliest patrol officer knows, and must apply, the Constitution on a daily basis. It guides and controls much of what they do. A daily question for police officers is under what conditions may they stop and question citizens? Here are the circumstances that led to the Terry decision:
In 1963, veteran police officer Martin McFadden noticed three men behaving suspiciously outside of a jewelry store in Cleveland, Ohio. The men were pacing back and forth, repeatedly stopping to look inside the same store. After observing this behavior, McFadden decided to approach the three men. He identified that he was a police officer and asked for their names. After the men ‘mumbled something’ in response, McFadden performed an exterior search (a pat down) of the men to ensure his safety. During the pat down, McFadden felt a weapon through the clothing of John Terry, which he then removed. He performed a pat down of the other two men and found that Richard Chilton was also carrying. Both men were charged with the illegal possession of a concealed firearm.
The case wound its way thought the system to the Supreme Court which ruled McFadden’s actions constitutional. Notice that the Fourth Amendment prohibits only unreasonable searches and seizures. For reasonable seizures, it requires probable cause, which can be understood as facts/circumstances that would cause a reasonable police officer—not a reasonable citizen; police officers know things they don’t–to believe a crime has been committed and a specific person has committed it.
Keep in mind there are exceptions to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. The question in Terry was whether Officer McFadden was justified in stopping, and “frisking” the three men. Did his actions fall under long-settled exceptions to the rule? Obviously, he didn’t have probable cause. He was not aware of a crime and didn’t believe the three men were responsible for one. The Court ruled McFadden’s actions were constitutional, and established the “reasonable suspicion” standard.
Reasonable suspicion is less than probable cause. In essence, if a police officer sees behavior which, in the light of his experience and the present circumstances suggests a crime might be about to be committed, or is being committed, he may approach and briefly—no longer than perhaps 15 minutes—detain that person or persons for the purpose of identifying them and determining if they are involved in criminal conduct. For his safety and the safety of the people detained, he may also “frisk” them, or in other words, conduct a “pat down” of their outer clothing to search for weapons. In this process, he may move them from place to place, say from the street to a nearby sidewalk. He may make them lean against a nearby wall, or any other reasonable action—including handcuffing–necessary to secure everyone’s safety as he deals with them. If, by feel, he detects a weapon, or contraband he can recognize as such—not by dipping into a pocket—during the frisk, he may seize those articles and use them as evidence in court. The standard of 15 minutes is not absolute, but records/wants/warrants checks can generally be done within minutes, even seconds. When the officer’s suspicions are satisfied, the stop is over, and most such stops are ended in less than 15 minutes.
It’s likely true that most people officers stop and frisk are not subsequently arrested, but this does not indicate Terry stops are unnecessary. Particularly in high crime areas, if criminals know they’re likely to be stopped, they will tend not to be caught carrying weapons or contraband, so most stops won’t result in arrests for such things. However, if as in Baltimore, NYC, Chicago and other D/S/C ruled cities that don’t allow officers the use of Terry stops, they’re far more likely to be armed and to carry contraband.
But what if a citizen approached by a police officer doesn’t want to talk with him? Can he just say nothing and walk away? Maybe, but that’s never a good idea. Police officers can use whatever force is necessary to legitimately do their jobs. In a Terry stop situation, they have the power to detain people, who may not just walk away. They may not know their actions are suspicious, but the officer does. Anyone can refuse to speak with the police under any circumstance, but it’s generally best to go along with any reasonable request.
Consider this scenario: In a high crime—black—neighborhood, officers have been specifically assigned to watch a corner known for drug dealing. They see a man hanging out on that corner, and when he sees them approaching, he turns and runs. Do the officers have reasonable suspicion?
This was the situation in the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore. Assigned to that particular corner to interdict drug dealing, the officers saw Gray, a known small-time drug dealer recognize them, and immediately run. His actions were certainly suspicious, given the location and circumstances, and the fact he was not wearing athletic clothing normally worn for jogging. They had all they needed for a Terry stop, and when they stopped and detained him, found an illegal weapon, a knife, which led to his arrest and the rest is well known.
But what if the police lie about why they stop someone? What if they’re just stopping them because they’re racially profiling them? Such things are possible, and for that we have the courts. If an officer does not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause, the courts may exclude any evidence gathered as a result of their improper actions, which usually means the charges are dropped. If, however, we’re willing to buy the argument that any stop of a black person in a black, nigh-crime neighborhood (or elsewhere) is prima facie (on its face) racial profiling, all that is accomplished is to turn such areas into law enforcement free zones, to the detriment of the honest people that live there.
D/S/Cs tend to create their own reality, which is always the way things should be rather than how they are. They are far more concerned for the “rights” of criminals than for the safety of law-abiding citizens. No criminal has a right to be free from Terry searches, which are permissible under the Fourth Amendment. In variably, when the “policy” of Terry stops is banned, crime flourishes. Politicians that claim to control the “policy” of Terry stops are engaging in virtue signaling. They don’t care about upholding anyone’s rights or safety, only their own power.
I think that the main problem with S&F was that it encouraged bad police work. It incentivises cops to not bother with having an actual, articulable reasonable suspicion, and instead encouraged them to forge sham suspicions to meet their S&F quota (and quotas themselves are bad incentives for cops, and multiply the problem.)
S&F was designed to pervert the Terry Stop into a General Warrant. Rather than encouraging cops to aggressively pursue RS, it punished them if they failed to harass enough citizens (because of the quotas) and probably interfered with real policework. In addition, the backlash to the General Warrant even made Terry stops suspicious, making the whole thing a huge setback.
Mayors shouldn’t be directly setting police policies on how to make contact with citizens.
Mike McDaniel said:
Bad cops are going to be bad cops regardless. It’s the duty of all police officers, but particularly supervisors, to police their own. We can’t give up vital powers because some might abuse them. And you’re absolutely right, mayors shouldn’t be doing that.
Bad cops are going to be bad cops, but in a system like S&F as it was implemented in NYC with illegal quotas, it is detrimental to all three types:
Bad cops get free reign
“Just a job” cops end up going along with the bad practices to get along (and some of them turn into bad cops)
Good cops either get fired for resisting or quit and find another department.
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Leonard Jones said:
I listened to a black cop who was interviewed on a talk radio show
today. The stop and frisk policy did not involve slamming minorities
against the wall at random as Mike Doomberg asserted. He mentioned
a lower level of probable cause as justification followed by questioning
before a frisk took place, like a bulge under the suspect’s clothing.
These stops disarmed thousands of gangbangers and took a lot of
drugs away from them. The policy should be called stop, question,
Take a group of 10 gangbangers, and you will find that most have
felony arrest records and convictions, and most will be on parole
or probation or have outstanding warrants. If anything, these “victims”
should be thanking the NYPD for not arresting them on the spot! As
for violating their rights, if they took a complaint to Internal Affairs,
they would be admitting that they were in possession of drugs and
Comrade Mayor deBlasio is systematically undoing the policy that
reduced the murder rate by 75 percent and crime in New York City
is now skyrocketing!
This is exactly why (even as a former libertarian) I support S&F.
Most cops who have been on the job more than a year or so have a very well calibrated Bad Guy Detector. (I’m also pro-partner for cops, hence the rookie aversion. . Most problems would be solved just by having an elder statesman standing there.) They can tell if they are dealing with a Bad Guy or a Good Guy in about 30 seconds for 99% of the population. That sucks for the 1% that gets mischaracterized, but that is why we have civil rights to fall back on.
The reality is, very few cops become cops just to harass normal folks (even the bully cops.). They want to harass the criminals. I’ve seen cops forge very good and supportive relationships with the “at-risk” kids who are receptive to rejecting crime. The only thing cops seem to get off on more than car chases is turning a juvenile delinquent into a tax paying citizen.
I’m pro harassment of criminals.
Mike McDaniel said:
Indeed. Professional cops don’t have to harass criminals. They anticipated when and where they’ll be committing crimes, and arrange to be there. Stop and Frisk is, like most police powers, a matter of balancing the rights of the individual against the legitimate safety needs of the public at large. S&F reaches this balance with a minimal intrusion (search) and a minimal seizure (15 minutes or less).
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Mike McDaniel said:
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