FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (TNS)
Many controversial exchanges marked the first presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, including one on the always-popular topic of law and order.
The two candidates differed on the police tactic widely known as stop and frisk.
Stop and frisk has been used in several large cities, but it achieved wide notoriety in New York before it was discontinued there in 2014.
If the idea is to revive it now and spread it to other cities let’s get this straight: It’s not needed, and there are better ways to fight crime.
Police would stop and question people who they thought might have committed or might be about to commit a crime. If they felt it necessary, they would frisk those people in search of guns or contraband.
Trump says stop and frisk “worked very well in New York.” At the policy’s peak in 2011, police made more than 685,000 stops. More than 90 percent of the people stopped were black or Hispanic, clearly showing an uneven application of the law.
Trump cites as a major benefit that “you take the gun away.” But the American Civil Liberties Union, after examining police data, says guns were found in only 0.1 percent of the more than 532,000 stops in 2012.
In 2013, a federal judge declared stop and frisk unconstitutional as it was applied in New York, but the case was not yet concluded when New York abandoned the policy.
Crime fell in New York while stop and frisk was in use, but it also fell in other cities where the tactic was not used. And crucially, it continued to decline after stop and frisk was abandoned.