by Jen Froderman
Donald Trump has a plan to fix crime in America, especially in minority communities. And all he has to do is toss out the Constitution to do it.
Trump wants to implement New York’s failed “Stop-and-Frisk” nationally, despite it being unconstitutional, racially motivated, and ineffective. He says it will get guns off the streets, which may officially make him the first major presidential candidate to actually propose a “gun grab” from US citizens.
At an event in Ohio, purporting to be part of his outreach to the black community, Donald Trump praised Stop-and-Frisk as a method of controlling “black on black crime,” calling it “proactive.”
Here is the exchange, via Andrea Jaffe:
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I had a question about, there’s been a lot of violence in the black community—I want to know, what would you do to help stop that violence, you know, black-on-black crime…..
TRUMP: Right, well, one of the things I’d do, Ricardo, is I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically, you understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see what’s going on here, I see what’s going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked. Now, we have had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, so I think that could be one step you could do.
Stop-and-Frisk means that police can stop any person, question them, and search them without cause. It was used in Trump’s home state of New York and Trump claims that it “worked incredibly well.” Except, it didn’t, it doesn’t, and is illegal.
Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have taken into consideration any of the facts regarding the program, instead opting to ‘speak from the gut’. Overall, the program had a huge flaw: it targeted overwhelmingly innocent people based on nothing other than the “feelings” of an officer. Feelings that were, more often than not, wrong. In fact, weapons and contraband were only found in 2 percent of Stop-and-Frisks.
However, when Donald Trump explained what he thinks Stop-and-Frisk does, he specifically mentioned it taking guns off the street:
FOX AND FRIENDS: will you explain what that is to my folks down in South Carolina that don’t really deal with stop and frisk? What exactly is it and what are the pros and cons?
TRUMP: Well, there are different levels. and you have somebody coming up who is the expert on it but basically they will—if they see, you know, they are proactive and if they see a person possibly with a gun or they think may have a gun, they will see the person and they will look and they will take the gun away. They will stop, they will frisk, and they will take the gun away and they won’t have anything to shoot with. I mean, how it’s not being used in Chicago is—to be honest with you, it’s a quite unbelievable, and you know the police, the local police, they know who has a gun, who shouldn’t be having a gun. They understand that.
Funny how when Donald Trump talks about taking guns away from black people, it’s perfectly OK with the NRA and gun nuts but when Hillary talks about taking them away from potential terrorists, it’s “tyranny” and must be stopped at all costs.
But aside from that hypocrisy, the program also overwhelmingly targeted minorities, mostly of African-American and Latino descent, creating one of the most widespread violations of civil rights in decades:
An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 5 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.
People of color have long known systemic racism from the police and to officially have their constitutionally protected rights suspended will certainly lead to an increase in police brutality and resentment in minority neighborhoods. As Michael Harriot wrote for the Root:
Long before iPhones, YouTube or Instagram became embedded in the collective consciousness of African Americans, the prevailing thought was that cops were predators and black people were prey. The commotion surrounding the body-slamming of schoolgirls or the rear-naked choke-holding of cigarette sellers is because now we can all see it. We always knew it, but now we could point to the incontestable evidence and say to those who had previously shamed us into silence: “Look! Now everyone can finally see what we’ve been talking about when we mention the racist police!”
Stop-and-Frisk in NY finally ended after it was found to violate not only the 14th but also the 4th Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure. However, contrary to what one would expect if the program actually had worked, the end of the Stop-and-Frisk program was not associated in any way with an increase in crime.
According to an analysis by the Brennan Center, murder rates were on the way down before the program. Not only but actually went down more as the program was being ended than while it was in play. More tellingly, they didn’t rebound after the program stopped.
Given this large scale effort, one might expect crime generally, and murder specifically, to increase as stops tapered off between 2012 and 2014. Instead, as shown in Figure 1, the number of murders fell while the number of stops declined. Murder also continued to drop after as stop-and-frisk wound down from its 2011 peak. In fact, the biggest fall in murder rates occurred precisely when the number of stops also fell by a large amount — in 2013.
The one thing that the Brennan Center analysis showed to be statistically significant in the drop in crimes was the CompStat program becoming available to officers. CompStat “allowed police to consult data when making decisions about where and how to respond to crime.” Something that works much better, empirically, than relying on their feelings.
It would seem that this data would be incredibly important for a Presidential candidate to understand before suggesting the use of a program already found to be ineffective, illegal, unethical, and unconstitutional. However, until Trump starts using facts, data, and evidence in place of “feelings,” that is something we can’t expect to happen.