During the first presidential debate of the election year, Donald Trump and moderator-cum second Democrat debater Lester Holt clashed over the police policy of stop and frisk. Siding with Hillary, shill Holt insisted the policy was deemed unconstitutional while Trump disputed that notion. But in fact, Holt is wrong. Stop and frisk is perfectly legal.
One of Trump’s suggestions for how to put a dent in the wildly rising rates of violent crime in America’s Democrat-controlled big cities is to reinstate and expand the stop and frisk policy. Trump said as much during the September 26 debate.
But, as Trump spoke the third debater interrupted him saying it was an illegal policy.
“Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men,” so-called “moderator” Holt told Trump.
“No, you’re wrong,” Trump responded. “It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.”
So, who is right? Well, all signs point to Trump.
For those unaware, stop and frisk (sometimes called a “Terry stop”) was legitimized by the U.S. Supreme Court way back in 1968 when the court ruled that a police officer could legally frisk a suspect without obtaining a search warrant or first arresting them if the officer had a reasonable suspicion that the suspect was armed or carrying contraband (such as drugs).
But the concept goes back even farther than 1968 and can be found in the English Common Law upon which the American system of justice was based. In any case, it is a concept of very long standing and has already been ruled a legal policing tool.
The trick, though, is in the way stop and frisk is observed and put into use. In practice, the officer needs a “reasonable” cause to perform a stop and search and that is where the whole policy can get political. Should a department indulge the process too much it could result in calls of harassment by members of the community and that is what happened in New York City. Stop and frisk was ended due to political pressure, not really legal pressure.
Holt did have a minor point in that a 2013 lawsuit against the New York Police Department put a halt to stop and frisk by the NYPD saying that its process was flawed. But the lawsuit did not deem the policy of stop and frisk itself to be unconstitutional. Holt was 100% wrong on that.
In the 2013 case, Bill Clinton appointed Judge Shira Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan essentially ruled that New York City’s version of the policy was improper–calling it an example of “indirect racial profiling”–and demanded that the NYPD put a halt to its policy.
After her decision Judge Scheindlin was criticized by an appeals panel saying she had compromised the “appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation” by taking the case to the media instead of remaining properly aloof during the process.
Even after she issued her decision it wasn’t necessarily the end of the case as the city had initially begun to file an appeal of the ruling. The appeal could well have over turned Judge Scheindlin’s obviously liberal political ruling but the appeal was canceled by incoming, self-avowed socialist mayor Bill de Blasio whose decision was arrived via political considerations, not legal ones
So, even the NYPD’s version of stop and frisk never reached its final legal challenge to determine its legality.
But don’t take my word for it. After the debate the policy was immediately defended by one-time New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor said that stop and frisk helped bring about an 85 percent reduction in crime in the Big Apple and is a perfectly legitimate, legal and constitutional tool used by America’s police departments. Giuliani took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal the day after the debate to side with Trump and asserted the efficacy of the stop and frisk policy.
Rudy insisted that the policy saved black lives.
Over a 20-year use of this policy, spanning the administration of two New York City mayors and four police commissioners, stop and frisk played a material part in reducing homicides in New York City. It helped to change New York City from the crime capital of America to the safest large city in the country. In each of those 20 years, approximately six of 10 murder victims in New York City were African-Americans. In other words, stop and frisk saved many black lives.
Rudy also pointed out that during his tenure the U.S. Department of Justice constantly reviewed the NYPD’s policy and never filed any sanctions or actions against the city.
It wasn’t until the liberal Manhattan judge appointed by a leftist president who wanted to make her mark in social justice before she retired that the policy was s maligned.
Rudy slammed both Hillary Clinton and “moderator” Lester Holt for their attack on Trump during the debate.
“Donald Trump was right. Hillary Clinton was wrong. Lester Holt should apologize for interfering and trying so hard to help Mrs. Clinton support her incorrect statement that stop and frisk is unconstitutional,” he wrote.
But Rudy Giuliani isn’t alone in his contention that stop and frisk is a good policy.
Even FBI Director James Comey noted that stop and frisk is a useful and legal tool for police. Comey recently told the House Judiciary Committee that the policy is perfectly fine when used properly.
Of course, many claim the policy is “racist” because it affects so many black citizens. But a study by the RAND Corp. found that “black pedestrians were stopped at a rate that is 20 to 30 percent lower than their representation in crime-suspect descriptions.”
In any case, the decision on how to or whether to implement stop and frisk is firmly in the political realm because in the legal realm the policy is perfectly constitutional.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Warner Todd Huston
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago-based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com and BigJournalsim.com along with all Breitbart News sites, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, and many, many others. He has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs across the country to discuss his news stories and current events and has appeared on TV networks such as CNN, Fox News, Fox Business Network, and various Chicago-based news programs. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.