January 6, 2014

Stop-and Frisk Makes Young Adults Distrustful of the Criminal Justice System

A September 2013 study by the Vera Institute of Justice, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit center for justice policy and practice, confirms what many have long argued—that stop-and-frisk policing leads to mistrust of police. The study found a very high correlation between young people who had been stopped and frisked and unwillingness to cooperate with police.  The study, which was conducted in the fall of 2011 in “highly patrolled, high-crime areas” in New York City neighborhoods, surveyed approximately 500 people between ages 18 and 25 and conducted in-depth interviews with a smaller sample of 13-21 year-olds.

Among the key findings:
  1. “For many young people, stops are a familiar and frequent experience,” with 44% of those surveyed reporting they had been stopped repeatedly—nine times or more. Less than one-third (29%) reported being given a reason for the stop.
  2. “Frisks, searches, threats, and use of force are common.” 71% of those surveyed reported being frisked at least once, and 64% said they had been searched.
  3. “Trust in law enforcement and willingness to cooperate with police is alarmingly low.”
  4. “Young people who have been stopped more often in the past are less willing to report crimes, even when they themselves are victims.”