Discrimination in the Stop and Frisk Policy

After watching the whole ‘Haunted and Hated’ video pertaining to the ‘Stop-and-frisk’ policy from the NYPD, I was overwhelmed with a series of ‘why’ questions. This policy would never be executed in Canada as it infringes on many of the points in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The police in New York are being pushed to stereotyping civilians and come up with a visual of what they would think a criminal would look like and stop anyone who looks the part to frisk them against their will. This encourages discrimination and mistreatment of civilians. Subconsciously officers are told it is okay to go out and take out their personal vendettas on innocent civilians. They are pushed to meet a quota of so many 250 forms, which may get very frustrating if the average of being successful at a stop and frisk is 9 out of 10. Of course the civilians are going to take the brunt of this frustration. Especially if the cops job is on the line and he really wants to impress his boss.

The stop and frisk policy started in 2002 and has statistically has done nothing except have the people of New York have lost trust in their local police. I cannot help but feel if the police commissioner was not white this policy would not be in place.

When you consider critical race theory, the laws are responsible for recreating race through social construction. This theory developed to deal with the racism in law. It recognizes the oppression faced by minorities and focuses on reconstructing society to expose racism and use law as way to eliminate oppression and racial myths from society. The stop and frisk policy essentializes racial characteristics. The policy goes against what the critical race theory believes.

The idea behind Critical Legal Studies is very important to the issue of racism and discrimination. Its goal is to raise awareness in hopes to alter people perception and attitudes towards other cultures and groups. This will hopefully eliminate the inequalities and myths in society. Inequality can create hierarchy between groups which therefore creates alienation. Alienation should be eliminated since it means that there are people within our society would are segregated and struggle to have any power or connection to the rest of society. This gap is unhealthy and is where many myths and discrimination can start. We want to strive to achieve equality and eliminate class struggle. The stop and frisk policy goes against the beliefs and goals of the critical legal studies as well. If we applied this theory to the policing in New York they would abolish this. It is clear from the stats that minorities are being not just picked on but it is pure racism and it does not encourage harmony between law enforcement and the people.

This form of treatment may also in the long run cause criminal behavior due to the Labeling Theory. If you are treating minority’s youth as criminals before they have a chance to prove they are not, they could grow up to believe they cannot become anything better. Especially if the cities ‘finest’ are treating them like scum, they will start to believe that is all they can be.

Additional Information:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms


To view data collected from the stop and frisk click on the link:


For a better understanding of Labeling Theory click on the link:



1 Comment

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One response to “Discrimination in the Stop and Frisk Policy

  1. You begin by noting that “This policy would never be executed in Canada as it infringes on many of the points in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”. The NYPD policy is certainly more open than any comparable Canadian examples, and it has a comparatively high level of official support. But this does not mean that Canada is immune to radicalized and classed approaches to policing. You may find the Toronto Star Race Matters investigative series to be interesting reading: http://www.thestar.com/racematters .

    Yo point out that “The stop and frisk policy started in 2002 and has statistically has done nothing except have the people of New York have lost trust in their local police.”. I would note that perceptions of the legitimacy and effectiveness of this program are mixed. Some New York communities support it, not least because it offers a highly-visible example of the police ‘doing something’ about ‘suspicious persons’. Perceptions are as important as other outcomes when it comes to evaluating support for police programs.

    One quibble: You note that “The policy goes against what the critical race theory believes.” It is important to note that critical race theory has a descriptive and analytical dimension (based on understanding how institutionalized racism is reproduced and practiced) and a programmatic dimension (based on seeking to reform mechanisms that facilitate discrimination). This means that the stop-and-frisk policy is precisely the type of mechanism that critical race theorists are interested in studying.

    It is interesting to see a passing mention of labeling theory!