In a recent op-ed, Chicago city treasurer Stephanie Neely calls for Chicago to adopt a version of New York’s infamous “Stop and Frisk” program as a way to combat the city’s gun violence crisis.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the program, it targets high crime areas with increased patrols. If a police officer deems someone “suspicious,” they can detain that person and search them for illegal weapons. Black and brown people are by far the most targeted under these kinds of programs, and only a small percentage are ever convicted of any wrongdoing.
Neely says it’s time for Chicago to “be courageous” and adopt a similar program.
The criticisms are well-known. The raw data on stop-and-frisk from other cities gives the impression that police target minorities. As a black woman, I am sensitive to our community’s tense historical relationship with law enforcement. However, the impact that gun violence has in our neighborhoods is too great for us not to start looking at things differently.
The reality is that the majority of gun violence occurs in our black and brown neighborhoods: It is black-on-black and brown-on-brown, and that’s why the numbers look the way they do.
We have a choice between living with the uncertainty of random gun violence and an occasional random stop that helps the entire community reduce the threat of guns. Would we prefer to continue being held hostage by thugs? Or deal with the inconvenience of stop and frisk?
I liken stop-and-frisk to the creation of the Transportation Security Administration. Anyone who has traveled on a plane over the past 10 years knows the annoyance of going through airport security. I don’t enjoy having to take my shoes off and going through image scanners, but the inconvenience is small compared to knowing that I don’t have to worry about someone bringing a gun on my flight. Don’t we deserve the same sense of security in our neighborhoods?
Since the program’s inception in New York City, activists, community members and organizations like the NYCLU have protested relentlessly against this unconstitutional program. It gives police officers the right to harass innocent black and brown people at will.
It denies our young people of their dignity and constitutional rights. Treating law-abiding citizens like criminals is not a solution to gun violence.
Thoughts on Stephanie Neely’s op-ed?
Would you be in support of a “Stop and Frisk” program in Chicago?
Sound off below!