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Stop-and-frisk encounters have dropped substantially in New York

The law allows police officers to stop individuals if they are suspected of a crime. During this stop, if a police officer believes that a criminal suspect might have a weapon concealed on his or her body, the officer might be able to search that person for a weapon. However, if there is not reasonable suspicion to support that a search was necessary, this search could be deemed a violation of the suspect's constitutional rights.

According to a study conducted by the Misdemeanor Justice Project, the number of arrests, traffic stops, moving violations and criminal summons occurring in New York City has substantially dropped over the past four years. This decrease was driven primarily by a steep decline in stop-and-frisk encounters occurring in New York.

Because officers have been encouraged to use greater discretion when they exercise their authority on the public, stop-and-frisk encounters began to decline. While some critics thought that this reduction would lead to an increase in crimes, the opposite has occurred. Not only has the overall crime rate dropped but also the number of complaints filed against police officers.

The stop-and-frisk tactic was used as an initial response to the rise in crime and the cocaine epidemic in the 1980s and '90s. However, it was quickly discovered that this technique was disproportionately used against racial and ethnic minorities. And while the number of these encounters has significantly dropped, recent studies suggest that there might still be an overrepresentation of African Americans and Hispanics.

Those facing criminal charges following a search such as a stop-and-frisk might have defense options. If there was not enough evidence supporting that the accused was suspected of a crime, he or she could use that to support their criminal defense. In this and other criminal matters, it is important that defendants understand their options so he or she can make informed decisions regarding their defense.

Source: The New York Times, "Decline in Stop-and-Frisk Tactic Drives Drop in Police Actions in New York, Study Says," Ashley Southall, Dec. 11, 2015

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