Constitution - Legal Question

As he tends to do, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump provoked some controversy recently with one of his proposals. Addressing the issue of "black-on-black" crime, specifically in Chicago, he proposed the implementation of a "stop-and-frisk" policy.

Judge Ruled That Stop and Frisk Violated4th and 14th Amendments

Stop and frisk essentially allows law enforcement officers to stop people on the street and search them and their belongings. The controversial practice, instituted in 1999 by the New York Police Department, was ruled unconstitutional in 2013 by a Manhattan Federal District Court judge.

The judge said that stop and risk violated people's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. She also determined that the practice was used in a racially discriminatory manner, violating people's 14th Amendment rights under the Equal Protection Clause. According to one report, of the 5 million-plus stop and frisk encounters from 2002 to 2013, 25 percent involved young black men, who account for less than 2 percent of the city's population.

Opponents Say Stop and Frisk Doesn't Reduce Crime

There's also no evidence that the policy reduced crime in New York City. Nonetheless, other cities are continuing to implement some version of stop and frisk. The idea is that police are supposed to have a "reasonable suspicion of criminal activity," according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, whose class action suit led to the end of the NYPD policy. However, too often, opponents of the policy argued, the stops were racially motivated.

The lead counsel for the CCR in that case says that stop and frisk won't solve the problem of black-on-black crime, which was what Trump was discussing when he advocated it. The attorney says that "the most effective way is to tackle poverty, increase economic opportunity and improve education -- not to engage in unconstitutional practices."

The Republican presidential candidate views it differently. He told a town hall audience, in his inimitable style, "I think stop and frisk in New York City, it was so incredible the way it worked."

It's a reasonable assumption that any attempts to enact a stop and frisk policy in Chicago, let alone nationwide, would be met with legal backlash. In the meantime, criminal defense attorneys can work to help those whose rights were violated. Evidence obtained illegally can be kept out of court. That's why it's essential to recall and, if possible, document in detail, the circumstances surrounding your arrest.

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