I think we can all agree that New York’s stop-and-frisk campaign is an epic fail. If there’s any doubt, a cursory perusal of the New York Civil Liberties Unionwebsite will allay your skepticism. Since 2002, scores of New Yorkers have fallen prey to this procedure and the overwhelming majority have been black and Latino. (In ten years, the highest number of whites stopped and frisked was 12 percent. In every year since 2002, the number of blacks stopped and frisked has been over 50 percent. No lower than 82 percent of the total number of stopped and frisked have been innocent.) When we think of those stopped on police suspicion of criminal activity, it’s probable we’re thinking primarily about young men. But of the 685,724 stopped by the NYPD last year, 46,784 women. Nearly 16,000 were frisked. Only 59 resulted in gun charges, though 3,993 arrests were made. You can bet that the majority of those 16,000 frisked women were black or Latino.

A recent New York Times article details the humiliation women feel when stopped by the NYPD. Since most are innocent, they’re being needlessly harassed and embarrassed. Male officers are routinely stopping women, asking them to empty the contents of their purses, rifling through their personal effects, and asking them to shake their bodies to see if anything illegal drops. Many women believe frisking by male NYPD officers is illegal, but this is false. Male officers are, in fact, allowed to frisk women:

The laws governing street stops are blind to gender. Male officers are permitted to frisk a woman if they reasonably suspect that she may be armed with a dangerous weapon that could be used to harm them. A frisk can escalate into a field search if officers feel a suspicious bulge while patting down the woman’s outer layer of clothing or the outline of her purse.

Though male frisks are lawful, women often feel violated by them. Certainly the women interviewed in the Times piece did–and with good reason. Among those featured, there were accounts of gender-specific discomforts: tampons and birth control pills unearthed or opened; waistband jostled and buttocks patted; a bra and panty set pulled out of a purse. These discomforts intensify if a crowd gathers to witness the search or the frisk.

Stop-and-frisk laws are clearly failing to reduce crime and they’re doing precious little to lessen the distrust of the community toward the NYPD.

Have you ever been stopped or frisked? Do you think this practice has any merit? Should male officers be allowed to frisk women?

7 Comments

  1. LemonNLime

    The law is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The US Constitution is supposed to protect us from illegal search and seizure *cough, cough this means you too TSA*. Here is the exact text:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”

    Beautiful isn’t it. I would refuse, allow myself to be arrested, and then sue the living H*** out of the city of NYC for violating my rights. I wish more people would stop agreeing to violation of our civil liberties in the name of some false sense of protection.

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  2. Thank you for covering this issue & referencing the Times article. I didn’t know the Times reported on Stop/Frisk’s targeting women (of color).

    End discriminatory Mandatory Minimums & #unconstitutional Stop/Frisk http://chn.ge/LZDcrv

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  3. If a female officer isn’t present, yes, a male officer should be allowed to frisk, I remember back in the day dudes used o get girls to hold their stash or weapons knowing that the police would not likely search the women. To me whether women should be searched is irrelevant the question should be the law it self.

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    • Jae Bee

      If a police officer is that certain that a female “suspect” may be carrying a weapon or someone else’s stash why can’t he just detain her until a female officer can come to the scene and do the frisk?

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    • Does it matter if he is that certain? You only have so many female officers on the force, I am sure there not waiting around for some one to call them to frisk someone. And are we requiring female officers to wait for males officers to come and frisk males suspects?

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  4. LemonNLime

    The law is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The US Constitution is supposed to protect us from illegal search and seizure *cough, cough this means you too TSA*. Here is the exact text:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”

    Beautiful isn’t it. I would refuse, allow myself to be arrested, and then sue the living crap out of the city of NYC for violating my rights. I wish more people would stop agreeing to violation of our civil liberties in the name of some false sense of protection.

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  5. “Stop and Frisk” is a prime example of racial profiling running a muck in our Law Enforcement. Police and private companies profit from the judicial process and bottom-feed off of minorities in this country. You can read about how private companies and crooked politicians have turned our Police forces on their ear in every attempt to squeeze money out of the general public at

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