North Texas Daily

Sorry, Trump! Stop-and-frisk didn’t work the first time

Sorry, Trump! Stop-and-frisk didn’t work the first time

Sorry, Trump! Stop-and-frisk didn’t work the first time
September 23
17:22 2016

Shain E. Thomas

When Donald Trump proposed a nationwide implementation of stop-and-frisk, the presidential hopeful appeared to be using Chicago as his only proof.

As provocative as it sounds, during an interview with FOX News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday, Trump suggested that the stop-and-frisk tactic would alleviate violence in America’s inner city areas. The following morning, Trump said he wanted to enact the policy in Chicago, claiming the city had over 3,000 shootings within the past year.

Although it’s obvious Trump was being hyperbolic as always, he remained adamant that such a policy should be implemented. “Now, people can criticize me for that or people can say whatever they want, but they asked me about Chicago, and I think stop-and-frisk, with good, strong, you know, good, strong law and order. But you have to do something. It can’t continue the way it’s going,” he said on the television show “FOX and Friends.”

Trump’s approach to law enforcement seems perilously one-dimensional. “I mean, the numbers were unbelievably changed,” Trump said, referencing the crime data before and after stop-and-frisk was utilized in New York. He also said, “I don’t mean just a little bit. It was massively changed, and it became a safe city. It went from an unsafe city to a safe city.”

While statistics might not lie, the way Trump applies those numbers reek of partisan rhetoric. The self-proclaimed law-and-order candidate clearly twisted evidence to fit his own right-wing agenda.

Trump unwisely cited New York, where a 2013 federal court ruled its stop-and-frisk practices as unconstitutional because they negatively affected the unalienable rights of black people. Instead of seeing the ruling as a police failure, Trump suggests that it supports a need for stop-and-frisk right now. Imagine if stop-and-frisk was implemented in Denton, a well-established college town with a highly diverse student population.

Trump fails to recognize how stop-and-frisk would raise a number of Fourth Amendment issues, which the U.S. Supreme Court has already addressed. In 1968, the United States Supreme Court addressed stop-and-frisk when Terry v. Ohio was heard in front of the Warren Court.

For a qualified legal opinion on stop-and-frisk, I contacted Dr. Peggy Tobolowsky, a professor within the UNT’s criminal justice department. Prior to joining the criminal justice department, Tobolowsky, highly knowledgeable of the constitutional law, worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and as a litigator for a major law firm, whose offices are in Dallas, Washington, D.C. and several other cities.

In an email, Tobolowsky wrote, “In Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the United States Supreme Court articulated the constitutional basis for, definitions of and requirements for stops and frisks.” Terry v. Ohio, as Tobolowsky highlighted in her email, took place during the Warren Court. The Court Opinion, written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, stipulated “[Terry v. Ohio] presents serious questions concerning the role of the Fourth Amendment in the confrontation on the street between the citizen and the policeman investigating suspicious circumstances.”

Warren wrote, “The Fourth Amendment provides that ‘the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. This inestimable right of personal security belongs as much to the citizen on the streets of our cities as to the homeowner closeted in his study to dispose of his secret affairs.”

“Stops and frisks have been utilized nationwide subject to the standards set in Terry ever since this decision was issued,” Tobolowsky concluded. “The Court’s decision in Terry remains the best source of information regarding stops and frisks.”

If legal history shows us anything, it is that every decree we have is meticulously devised and chosen. If Trump has shown us anything, it is that he has little regard for rules in order to achieve his own tactics. There is no doubt Trump is more concerned with the rights of the few than he is with the rights of America as a whole. Because of this, stop-and-frisk will never work.


Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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