By SAMUEL MARTINEZ, age 11, and MALIK SHAH, age 9

Young people protesting the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policies in New York City. PHOTO: J-No
Young people protesting the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies in New York City.

The New York City Police Department is being criticized for a controversial policy called stop-and-frisk. Stop-and-frisk is when police officers approach people that they find suspicious and pat them down to search for illegal drugs and weapons.

Stop-and-frisk is controversial because it affects certain minority groups unequally. According to the New York Times, NYPD officers stopped and frisked people 685,724 times in 2011. Of that number, 87 percent were people of color, and most were Black or Latino.

David Floyd, a Black medical student, is challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy by suing the City of New York. He claims the policy violates rights protected by the fourth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These amendments protect people from being searched without permission from a judge and ensure all people are treated equally under the law, no matter their race or ethnicity.

According to Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the case to federal court, “In over 90 percent of all stop-and-frisks, police officers end up realizing the person they stopped was innocent. This tells us stop-and-frisk is not an efficient way to fight crime.”

In recent years, New York City has seen its lowest number of serious crimes in decades. The NYPD says that the declining crime rates mean stop-and-frisk is working, and states that, “Precinct by precinct, the rates at which minorities are stopped are consistent with the rates at which minorities are identified as crime suspects.”

Floyd claims that minorities are being unfairly targeted under the policy because most of the people stopped are Black or Latino, who only make up 52 percent of New York City’s population. “Blacks, Latinos, whites, Asians, we all have equal protection under the law,” says Warren. “The Center for Constitutional Rights is making sure the NYPD abides by this basic principle.”