African Americans are being disproportionately stopped in Newark, New Jersey stop and frisks, according to police department data released for the first four months of 2014. Although stops are a bit down overall from 2,093 averaged per month for the last six months of 2013 to 1,714 in the report.
Despite the decrease in stops, blacks still accounted for 73 percent of all stops, despite being only 52 percent of the city’s residents. Also alarming was the number of stops that didn’t produce charges. Only 22 percent of those who were stopped received a citation or were arrested, down from 25 percent in the prior report. That means that 78 percent of those stopped were doing nothing to justify police action against them.
The Newark Police Department has been the subject of a year-long investigation by the United States Justice Department. A report on the investigation is set to be released shortly. The investigation was triggered by 2010 ACLU report that “accused the force of systematically denying civilian complaints, failing to properly respond to lawsuits and running a deeply dysfunctional internal affairs system.”
Cornell’s Legal Information Institute defines “stop and frisk” as, “A brief, non-intrusive, police stop of a suspect.” Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, police may stop someone without a warrant or probable cause if police have a reasonable belief that the suspect is armed and dangerous. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889 (1968).
Police should not use racial profiling when stopping suspects in a stop-and-frisk, yet the data discussed above leaves little confidence that the police are honoring the protections found in our Constitution. You need help fighting back against police and government officials who don’t respect the restraints place on them by the Constitution. An experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney is your best defense. Call for a consultation.