Stop & Frisk

(A timely repeat from 8/23/13)

Years ago, when I was an Assistant States Attorney, I occasionally rode along with Chicago Police. One day, we were driving on West 18th Street. Suddenly, the officer in the front seat pointed at a car going in the opposite direction and hissed “They’re dirty.” We squealed a U-turn, going boots and saddles (lights and siren). The car stopped, officers hopped out – guns drawn. Pointed.  In the car were two gang bangers (both with records), drugs and two sawed off shotguns. I often wonder whose life was saved that day.

New York City’s murder rate fell from the thousands to a few hundred thanks to stop & frisk “with reasonable suspicion.”  The bad guys didn’t know when they’d be stopped so they weren’t packing.  Chicago on the other hand is the murder capital of the (un)civilized world. Thousands of shooting victims. Many innocent. Many spontaneous. Explosions of gunfire. Especially in poorer neighborhoods. But of course Chicago doesn’t have stop & frisk. As it “may offend.”  Result?  Gangs rule. Senseless violence. Mayhem. Butchery. Death. And Chicago slides into the abyss.

Police are not the problem. Criminals are the problem. The bad guys. Chicago gun laws are the most stringent in the country yet the bad guys have guns. But in Chicago, there’s no deterrent for the bad guys who carry them. And then use them.

Obviously it’s a tough situation. There are no easy solutions to this problem but ignoring stop & frisk as an option is madness. I cannot fathom the mindset of those misguided souls who oppose stop & frisk with reasonable suspicion. If they want to debate the statistics or the Fourth Amendment issues, they will lose.