Stop and frisk search is a type of search where an individual is detained on the street or removed from the vehicle, after which they are felt or patted down with an intention to discover weapons or other hidden objects. This is typically done to ensure that nothing illegal is being passed around, which could endanger the public or the officers (Ferdico et al., 2015). Many civil rights advocates consider the practice to be questionable and demeaning, especially to the minorities, who have been disproportionately targeted by law enforcement agencies. When considering a stop and frisk search, there are several important factors to take into account (Ferdico et al., 2015):
- Is the search justified and lawful, and does it stand up to public scrutiny?
- Does the officer have reasonable suspicion for finding any prohibited articles or objects that could be used for committing crimes?
- How well is the person in question treated, and do they understand their rights in this situation?
- Was the search necessary and proportionate, and have other methods of surveillance been exhausted?
- Is the choice of action and the person in question affected by personal perceptional, cultural, and racial biases?
The officer may engage only after all of these factors have been considered, assuming they have the proper clearance and orders to perform these activities. Not every situation warrants such an intrusive method of searching, so each situation must be considered individually. In all cases, the decision to stop and search has to be fair, the search must be legal, the interactions between parties must remain professional, and the use of these methods must be transparent, accountable, and free of bias as much as possible.
Ferdico, J. N., Fradella, H. F., & Totten, C. D. (2015). Criminal procedure for the criminal justice professional (12th ed). Thomson/Wadsworth.