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'Stop and frisk': 7 questions about New York's controversial policing tactic

A federal class-action lawsuit regarding the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program has raised questions about the controversial practice made legal under a 1968 US Supreme Court ruling. Closing arguments in the trial were May 20, with the judge expected to rule in several months.

Proponents call it the most effective policing tactic to date, while opponents say it illegally targets minorities and is indiscriminate and discriminatory. But what is it and does it work?

By Husna Haq, Correspondent


A protest against the New York Police Department's 'stop and frisk' program moves down Fifth Avenue in New York in June 2012.

Seth Wenig/AP/File

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1. What is 'stop and frisk'?

Widely adopted in the mid-1990s when former Police Commissioner William Bratton took over the NYPD, stop and frisk is a tactic used by law enforcement to monitor urban environments and reduce crime. If a police officer reasonably suspects a person is about to commit, is committing, or has committed a crime, the practice enables the officer to stop, question, and if needed, frisk the person for weapons.


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