DETROIT (WWJ) – Is it racial profiling — or just good police work? The controversy surrounding the policy known as “Stop and Frisk” has come under fire in Detroit.
The practice allows police officers the ability to stop citizens under the premise of reasonable suspicion, as opposed to probable cause. Opponents say it’s a policy that leads to racial profiling. Mark Fancher is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, one of several locally-based human rights groups to speak out against Stop and Frisk.
“This is to announce our concern and our attempt to wave a red flag and to say that if the Detroit Police are considering following the path that was followed by the New York City police, they really ought to stop and change course immediately,” says Fancher.
The ACLU says it has filed a Freedom of Information Act request, seeking copies of Detroit Police training policies.
“If the Detroit Police still decide to go forward with developing a program that’s going to mimic what was done in New York City, that’s a big problem. And so we’re hoping that they’ll see the absurdity of going down that road, and not even do it,” says Fancher.
Fancher says, “The concern of those of us in the coalition, there is the prospect or the potential that it will be implemented in an unconstitutional way.”
And he adds, “We hope to stop those kinds of practices from going forward. That’s our purpose.”
Meantime, Detroit Police Chief James Craig has been noted as saying that if there is no reason to stop someone, then they’re not going to be stopped. But Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations Michigan, says “stop and frisk” policing is already happening.
“We already have cases in which police officers have stopped and frisked people. Where our concern is at, we don’t want to see the institutionalization of Stop and Frisk as an official Detroit Police program,” says Walid.
Ron Scott, with the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, says, “We have actively about 25 cases that fit the framework of what is called Stop and Frisk, where these individuals once stopped have been charged with resisting and obstructing, assaulting a police officer. And especially for young Black men that is a death nail.”
Nabih Ayad, chairman of the Arab American Civil Rights League, calls the policy an afront to constitutional rights.
“We have fought long and hard to stop this unconstitutional encroachment on the individual and civil rights of people,” says Ayad.
Detroit Police have denied allegations of racial profiling, calling Stop and Frisk simply good police work. Last month, a federal judge ruled New York City’s use of Stop and Frisk techniques were unconstitutional.