Hadiya Pendleton was 15 when her life was stolen from her. Her family refers to her as a “Walking Angel.” Pendleton was shot and killed in a Chicago park last January. What a tragic loss for the Pendleton family!
One round fired by a gang member struck her in the back, ending her life. Hadiya’s life was filled with promise. She was an honor student, an avid reader, played volleyball, and was a member of King College Prep High School’s marching band.
Just 9 days prior to her murder, she sang at President Obama’s Inauguration. How many more Walking Angels are either dead or at risk in our nation’s inner cities? More importantly, what is being done to keep our angels walking for their lifetime?
A park is a meeting place to talk, have some fun together, and play sports. Unfortunately, a male in a white car chased another male on foot into the park. Shots were fired. When the shooting was over, Hadiya Pendleton, an innocent bystander, was mortally wounded. An African American girl was killed by a black male armed with an illegal handgun who stole her life. Although she was not the intended target, the shooter left her to die on Chicago’s streets.
Acts like this are the driving force behind NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Policy, initiated by NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. In 2012, the number of murders in New York City fell to a record low of 414.
The reduced number of New York City murders is directly attributable to Stop and Frisk’s success. This program is so effective that NYPD has been accused of racial profiling. Commissioner Kelly’s position is that crimes are being prevented before people are being killed in his city.
Walking Angels have lost their lives in New York City as well. However due to Stop and Frisk, the likelihood of such an outcome is greatly reduced. In 2012, Chicago reported 500 homicides. NYPD’s accomplishment is impressive. New York City’s population is three times the size of Chicago’s. However, in 2012 Chicago residents were 3.7 times more likely to be homicide victims than New Yorkers. Taking illegal guns off the street in high-crime areas in New York City has saved lives.
NYPD did more in 2012 than reduce homicides. It reduced them by 19.6 percent. Chicago didn’t just have more homicides; it had a 15.6 percent increase in homicides. Strategic placing of police officers in high-crime areas reduces homicides, removes illegal guns from the streets, leads to the arrest of felons, and protects law-abiding citizens living within the high-crime areas. Those honest low-income residents are entitled to live without being in constant fear.
NYPD Stop and Frisk is under legal challenge from civil liberties groups which contend that police use it as a pretext to stop and search people without cause. They assert that the majority of those stopped are minorities.
Crime is intra-racial versus, for example, black on white. Conversely, eighty five percent of crimes against Caucasians are committed by other white community members. People of the same ethnic group tend to be both the criminal and the victim. If a high number of people from one racial group are being stopped, it is not due to their race. The highest crime rates tend to be in minority areas. The police are protecting the minority citizens within these high-crime areas; not racial profiling.
The Center for Constitutional Rights opposes Stop and Frisk. Their statistics indicate that 84 percent of the 686,000 people stopped and searched in 2011 were African-American or Latino. Only 6 percent of the stops resulted in an arrest. Illegal weapons or contraband were found in only 2 percent of stops. This statistic actually demonstrates that NYPD spends about 84 percent of its time protecting minorities by taking action against those who are most likely to injure or kill them.
On August 12, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that NYPD’s Stop and Frisk tactics violated minority constitutional rights. The judge found that NYPD was indirectly racial profiling as it increased the number of stops in minority communities.
The judge concluded that officer routinely stop blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white. Judge Scheindlin has failed to understand Terry vs. Ohio. She must not recognize that the overwhelming percentage of crimes against New York City minorities are committed against them by other minority group members.
Terry v Ohio indicates that all an officer needs to stop and frisk is reasonable suspicion that an individual is about to commit a crime, is committing a crime, or just completed a crime. A frisk may be made if the police have reasonable suspicion to believe that the person stopped is armed with a weapon which can harm an LEO.
If no cause for arrest exists, the officer must release the person stopped. An officer requires probable cause for arrest. Officers releasing individuals momentarily stopped should be commended; not criticized, for following appropriate procedure based on case law..
Judge Scheindlin called for a federal monitor to oversee broad reforms, including the use of body-worn cameras for some patrol officers. However, she did not order an end to Stop and Frisk. New York City plans to appeal her decision. Too much good has been achieved, too many lives have been saved, and too many crimes have been prevented. NYPD will do its best to keep its angel’s walking.
Hidaya Pendleton’s parents, a black couple, have recently announced to the media their support for Stop and Frisk.. Both believe that their daughter might be alive if NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policy was practiced in Chicago
Chicago and other cities can learn from the success that NYPD has achieved. Judge Scheindlin’s recent decision does not discontinue Stop and Frisk. An appeal will be filed to protect the Walking Angels of New York City.
Jim Gaffney, MPA is Law Enforcement Today’s risk management /police administration contributor. He has served with a metro-New York police department for over 25 years in varying capacities, culminating with Executive Officer and PIO. He is a member of ILEETA, IACP, IACSP, and FBI – LEEDA. Jim is a Certified Force Science Analyst. He mentors law enforcement’s next generation as an adjunct criminal justice professor in the New York City area. Jim brings the street into the classroom to prepare students today for their roles as police officers tomorrow. He is CEO of Bright Line Consulting and can be reached via www.brightlinepoliceconsulting.com
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