Target: James Craig, Detroit Chief of Police
Goal: Don’t adopt racist stop and frisk tactics
Currently, traffic cops in Detroit are being “sent through aggressive training” in stop-and-frisk tactics. These tactics are similar to those used by the New York Police Department. In fact, according to news outlet RT, “the Detroit Police Department has signed a contract with consultants at the Manhattan Institute and Bratton Group in order to develop a more stringent strategy for cutting down on criminal activity.” This follows a ruling by a federal judge in New York who declared that the practice of stop and frisk policing methods “unfairly target minorities.” The judge further ordered that the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics be evaluated by an independent monitor.
Recent reports also suggest a correlation between the implementation of stop and frisk measures by police and the implementation of monthly arrests quotas by police. Despite these qualms, Detroit is planning to formally adopt New York’s stop-and-frisk policy.
Stop-and-frisk policing involves stopping a suspect based on “reasonable suspicion,” but no clear blueprint exists for what does and does not constitute reasonable suspicion. The suspect is then searched, and if any illegal items are found, he or she is arrested. Stop-and-frisk tactics were meant to prevent shootings and other forms of violent crime, but recent cases in cities across the United States suggest that more often than not, citizens are stopped and frisked for little more of a reason than the color of their skin.
Tellingly, a spokesman from the Detroit Police department, when questioned about the racist nature of “reasonable suspicion” under the stop and frisk policy, stated that “Detroit’s population is mostly African American, so it stands to reason that a high number of African Americans will be stopped, based on reasonable suspicion. This is not racial profiling, just officers doing good constitutional police work.” In addition, anonymous police sources from New York have stated that suspects of color are often randomly subjected to stopping and frisking based simply on the color of their skin.
A federal judge has expressed serious concern about the racism behind the implementation of stop and frisk policing, which should give Detroit pause in adopting these measures. Tell Chief James Kelly of Detroit not to adopt stop-and-frisk policing measures in his department.
Dear James Craig,
Recent reports state that the Detroit Police are planning to adopt an aggressive style of policing modeled after the controversial stop-and-frisk measures used in New York. These stop-and-frisk measures, although intended to prevent violent crime, often result in racial profiling and in racially motivated arrests. A federal judge was so concerned by the racist nature of New York’s stop-and-frisk policing tactics that she ordered federal oversight of the New York Police Department by an independent monitor, stating that the stop-and-frisk laws in New York targeted minorities unfairly.
Detroit is undoubtedly facing an epidemic of crime and poverty, a situation familiar to many formerly vibrant industrial centers. However, rather than taking measures to harass and to discriminate against its citizens, Detroit ought to be investing its resources and institutions into improving the conditions around them. Stop-and-frisk policing tactics breed animosity between citizens and police. By stopping and frisking people on “reasonable suspicions” based mostly on the color of their skin, police create an environment of hostility and fear. Don’t implement stop and frisk measures in your department, Chief Craig. When police respect the citizens, citizens will then respect police.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Kat Gawin