New Models of Participation and Expertise in the United States and Europe
Edited by Thierry Delpeuch and Jacqueline E. Ross
Chapter 8: Street stops and police legitimacy in New York
Modern policing in the US has embraced the notion of proactivity, featuring frequent police interdictions of citizens animated by broad indicia of imminent crime. Street stops of pedestrians, often employing ‘stop and frisk’tactics, are central to this strategy. This paper assess the emotional aftermath of widespread use of these tactics, focusing on how exposure to street stops shapes the attitudes of citizens toward law and legal actors. Our central concern is the effects of widespread and often aggressive stops on the emotional well-being of those stopped, as well as public trust and confidence in the police in the communities where stop and frisk rates are highest. We begin with a review of the range of potentially adverse reactions or harms that SQF or ‘street’policing may produce. We next link those harms to a broader set of normative concerns that connect dignity, harm and legitimacy. In the third section, we review the evidence that connects citizen views of police –as well as their experience with police – to their perceptions of the legitimacy of the police and criminal legal institutions generally. In that same section, we review the evidence that links those perceptions to how citizens behave with respect to law, and identify the consequences of adverse reactions of citizens to harsh forms of street policing. In the fourth section, we discuss alternative frameworks for thinking about the regulation and control of the new policing, a discussion that has longstanding roots in a broader dialogue about the management of police discretion. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of these tactics for development of accurate intelligence about crime patterns and offenders. The low rates of arrest or seizure of weapons or contraband in stop and frisk encounters suggest that proactive policing may divert police attention from the realities of crime and offenders, while eroding the incentives of citizens to assist police in developing useful knowledge to prevent crime and bring offenders to justice.
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