An Outside View of Stop & Frisk

Regardless of what you might think of NYPD’s stop & frisk in theory or, by extension, those who fought against and defeated it in court, consider that more than a few voices of speaking out wore blue. Some considerations when controversy embroils a...


“the Constitution has been thrown out the window when it comes to stops.” (Eterno continues) He is given strict daily quotas and asked at the end of his tour about his numbers. An officer who fails to meet the required number for the day is berated (sometimes in front of peers), not allowed time off and given unpalatable work assignments. Nothing is asked about maintaining order, interacting with the community or other kinds of police work.

Eterno describes what he calls a “performance culture” that he blames for a dissipation of discretion among officers, replaced by “needless summonses for minor violations (putting one’s feet on subway seats, playing chess in a park, failing to wear seat belts) and other quota-driven activity,” leads to “crimes are being downgraded; crime scenes are revisited, and victims called back, expressly so that reports can be revised, and the seriousness of the crime downplayed,” and impacts officers by forcing them to become ever more aggressive in seeking self-initiated enforcement opportunities – regardless of how minor the offenses might be.    

Eterno’s is only one voice, sure, but it is the voice of one who served 21 years with the department he now criticizes on behalf of many officers who feel overwhelming pressure to perform.  Regardless of what you might think of stop & frisk in theory or, by extension, those who fought against and defeated it in court, consider that more than a few voices of speaking out wore blue.  Maybe we should listen.

 

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