Speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday, Republican nominee Donald Trump explained his new idea for America’s criminal justice system: stop-and-frisk policing. Citing the tactic’s use in New York City until it was ruled unconstitutional in 2013, Trump said he thinks we “have to do it” nationwide.
He doubled down on the proposal Thursday morning, insisting he only meant Chicago this time, making these remarks in another Fox interview:
“Rudy Giuliani did a great job as mayor and they really straightened things out with stop-and-frisk, and it was used further by the next mayor, Bloomberg, and now they, you know, recently — not so recently but fairly recently — they stopped it. But stop-and-frisk worked. We had tremendous shootings, number of shootings. Now Chicago is out of control. And I was really referring to Chicago with stop-and-frisk. … I was talking about stop-and-frisk for Chicago.”
There are three big problems with Trump’s plan here.
The first is that he’s lying: Stop-and-frisk didn’t work. Since NYC’s stop-and-frisk was officially shut down, crime rates actually dropped in the city, and even while the program was still running, there was no real correlation between the number of stops and the number of crimes.
The second is that stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional. It’s a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable, warrantless search and seizure. There’s actually a Twitter account that shares real quotes from NYC stop-and-frisk reports showing the incredibly flimsy reasons officers gave for stopping people without cause. The number of innocent New Yorkers stopped for something as vague as “furtive movements,” “wearing clothes commonly used in a crime,” or even just “other” behavior is mind-boggling. With reasons like that, literally anything is a pretext for harassment and literally anyone can be harassed.
But the third problem is that typically it wasn’t just anyone who was harassed by police when New York did stop-and-frisk: Minorities were unfairly and intentionally targeted. Black and Hispanic New Yorkers were stopped and frisked again and again, even though they were almost never caught with contraband — only 1.5 percent of stops even turned up a weapon (and as I recently reported, NYC has notoriously obnoxious knife laws that make harassment easy to this day). One NYPD cop managed to record his superior officer telling him to target minorities. Needless to say, stop-and-frisk was a nightmare for police-community relations in New York.
That recent history still smarts in New York, which is probably why NYC officials, including the new police commissioner, aren’t exactly rallying behind Trump’s plan. “The fact is: Almost all African-American men have felt themselves regarded as threats or criminals – when they walked into a store, when they walked down a street,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill on Monday.
“Those wounds run very deep,” he added.
Donald Trump should stop proposing we cut them open again.