Stop and Frisk – The Way It Used To Be

Bob Weir Community, History, Law, National, New York City, New York State, People, Police Department News, Politics, Texas 13 Comments

Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover 
assignments. Bob began a writing career about 12 years ago and had his first
book published in 1999. He
 also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.” Photo by and courtesy of Netsky Rodriguez.

FLOWER MOUND, TX — March 3, 2020, 2020 — Officer Martin McFadden was on a foot post in a commercial area of Cleveland, Ohio, when he noticed two men standing on a street corner. From his concealed position, McFadden watched as one of the men walked to a retail store, stopped to look in the window, turned around and walked back to join the other man. The other man walked over to the same store, looked in, and then rejoined his friend. Officer McFadden watched as the men repeated the action about a dozen times individually before both headed toward the store together. McFadden confronted the men and asked for identification. When they hesitated he patted down their clothing and removed a gun from each of them. They were arrested and charged with illegally carrying concealed weapons.

The aforementioned scenario is what happened on October 31, 1963. The men arrested were John Terry and Richard Chilton. During the trial, Terry’s lawyer made a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the “frisk” by which McFadden had discovered the gun was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The trial judge denied his motion on the basis that the “stop-and-frisk” was generally presumed legal, and Terry was convicted. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which, on June 10, 1968, issued an 8–1 decision against Terry, upholding the constitutionality of the “stop-and-frisk” procedure as long as the police officer performing it has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is about to commit a crime, has committed a crime, or is committing a crime, and may be “armed and presently dangerous.”

I was a rookie cop in New York City during the 1960s, and back then stop and frisk didn’t have a national name; it was just part of a cop’s job to react during circumstances which, motivated by his street savvy, appeared suspicious. Thousands of guns, knives, blackjacks and numerous other weapons were taken off the streets during a typical year in many large urban areas. Although it’s impossible to know how many crimes were prevented by stop and frisk situations, one thing is clear, the streets were safer when thugs knew they could end up in a cell if they were caught carrying illegal weapons. Sometime during the early 1970s NYC officials decided to design a stop and frisk form to be filled out by cops whenever such encounters occurred.

Although the form caused more paperwork for the industrious cops, it became useful as a record of who was stopped at a particular location during a particular time. Hence, if a crime was committed in the vicinity where a suspect had been stopped earlier, it often led to the subsequent arrest and conviction of the suspect. Moreover, it was very likely the deterrent for a crime that was planned, but never executed, since the suspect knew he had been spotted and recorded. Like the Terry case, in which it was obvious that the armed gunmen were “casing” the store with the intent to commit robbery, countless other crimes have been averted because of police intervention, based on their reasonable suspicion.

Fast forward to 2020 and we have a former NYC Mayor, running for President, doing a mea culpa regarding the stop and frisk procedure that was used during his tenure, notwithstanding the fact that stats reveal it substantially reduced crime. Bloomberg said it was discriminatory because it was used more often against blacks than whites. Here’s where a bit of logical reasoning is needed. If there is much more crime in predominantly black neighborhoods, isn’t it sensible to conclude that more blacks would be subject to the procedure? I suppose that, in this politically-correct culture on steroids, cops in white areas could randomly stop whites and question them in order to create a balance.

The point is that cops are most useful to society when they use their experience to take as many bad guys off the street as possible before they hurt or kill the good guys. During a saner time in our history that was so sensible that no one would question it. Not anymore! Whether it’s women and children being whisked off the streets and thrown into vans by sex-traffickers, drugs being sold in broad daylight, or the “knockout game” putting innocent people in hospitals or morgues, thugs are no longer afraid of being stopped by law-enforcement. When that fear was removed it became open season on the average man or woman with no defense against the violent beasts of prey hovering over them.

I know it’s been said many times, but, it bears repeating that the police are the only defense we have against those beasts. If we continue making them ineffective we won’t be safe inside or outside our homes. Residents of the inner cities already live in fear. How long before suburban and rural residents are similarly terrified? By the way, we often hear that we need to hire more cops. I disagree! Every police department has a trained army, ready to defend us. All we need to do is let them do what they were trained for.

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Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”

Bob WeirStop and Frisk – The Way It Used To Be

Comments 13

  1. Right or wrong, stop and frisk saved many more black and brown lives than anybody gives credit to. Also, statistically everybody knows The neighborhoods in which crime occurs more frequently. It is not racist to point out that there were 10 crimes in one neighborhood and one crime in another neighborhood. The truth hurts, Why not come up with some productive ways to reduce crime and change young peoples attitudes toward life?

    1. They should stop and frisk the banksters on Wall Street and the shysters in corporate America. That would save far more lives than shaking down teenagers in Bed Stuy.

  2. Bob doesn’t understand the law period. In the case he cited there was a reasonable suspicion test that was met by the two men making three trips to the store and confering about it within the sight of the officer. Stop and frisk in new york required no such suspician and it assumed that black young men were more likely to commit a crime simply by virtue of their race. The constitution prohibits unreasonable search and siezures that means in order to conduct a “search” in the first place an officer must have a reason to believe a crime is or is about to be committed. In the absence of that reason the search is illegal. Regardless of whether or not crime went down during the stop and frisk time in NYC…that is not the constitutional standard. Unless you want to make the argument that crime went down in the jewish quarter of Warsaw during the Nazi invasion……and I doubt anyone wants to make that argument However it is precisely the one Weir is making

  3. Can someone tell me why this guy keeps getting his articles posted? It’s literally the same anti-black/brown sentiment every time, just in different forms of complaining. It’s scary to think of what someone in his position as a police officer did to people in the community, under the guise of law and order. Inner city people are just as terrified of people like him! Glad he’s retired from the force, now please retire from typing.

    1. Everyone has an opportunity to give expression to their perspective. Some will agree, some will not. Your choice is to agree or disagree. — Kindly. Hezi

      1. No – Bob Weir is a racist. We don’t need to hear his racism over and over.
        His columns are all anecdotes that are not provable and in any case one incident does not make a case.
        I ask you Hezi –
        How many NYC city councilmen (dressed in business suits) were stopped and frisked?
        How many young men were stopped 3 ,4, 5 times a week?
        Why was the young man wearing a dress shirt and tie, with his lunch sandwich in hand, outside the school he worked in, stopped and forced to do the stop and frisk “hokey pokey?”
        If you can’t see that he is a racist, you are closing your eyes.

    2. Who are the victims of crime in “communities of color” its people of color and the aggressors are people of color harming and killing there own kind.

    1. Just take a look over the past 20 years at the number of “Legislators of Color ” up in Albany who have been arrested for ripping off the “communities of color” who they allegedly represented.

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