[Current Events] House Bill 13: Putting Stop & Frisk on full display

Photo Credit: Shae McCoy| Baltimore, Md.

Photo Credit: Shae McCoy| Baltimore, Md.

A bill was brought to life recently which features language that pinpoints the powers given to the Police Commissioner in regards to their duties and responsibilities in police protocol as well as in community interaction. This includes determining patrol areas, different task forces and divisions within the department, and the implementing of policies to be enforced out on the streets. The primary focus of these proceedings has been the enforcement of a long-standing “Stop & Frisk” policy, and the bill states that the Commissioner must now distribute signs throughout the city alerting people of which areas this policy will be most heavily enforced. The policy itself has already proven to be less than effective since it’s introduction in the early 2000’s. The Baltimore police department has made hundreds of thousands of stops, most of which have not only been unwarranted but have yielded very little results with regards to stopping or preventing crime. A report was released that a large number of the stops officers make go unreported so there’s no telling exactly how many unlawful stops have occurred where innocent men were subject to harassment. The Stop & Frisk policy also shows a high racial bias, in that a far greater number of Black males are the ones who are subjected to these random searches as they try to go about their daily lives. The negatives of this policy far outweighs the positives as such constant abuse of this mandate puts an even bigger strain on the relationship between the community and the police department, in that it fills people with a sense of even more tension and fear when the police are present, not knowing whether or not they will be left alone or randomly patted down and treated like some sort of criminal with no form of probable cause. While the bill doesn’t specifically state how and when these stop and frisk or “High Crime Zones” will be determined, it does state that signs must be posted within and around the perimeter of such areas to inform the public. There is also the likelihood that there will be an increased police presence in these areas and for those who live within these high crime lines, who have no criminal motives or intentions at all, this can deem problematic with the high likelihood of officers attempting to take liberties within these neighborhoods and abuse their power, stopping whomever they want whenever they want purely based on the location a person happens to be travelling or living in. And honestly, with the recent activities carried out by officers of the law, and the apparent lack of peacekeeping that is actually being done, that outcome seems inevitable.  The closest thing that can be considered positive that can be said about this bill is, with the placement of signs, people will be able to have a better awareness of what areas to be wary of in regards to not only criminal behavior but police behavior for their own protection as a citizen. Though unlikely, this provides the opportunity for an increase in accountability in both officers and citizens in that if the two can’t begin to work together they can at least monitor one another to ensure that if any lines are crossed they can be responded to appropriately. Unfortunately, the chances of this ending with any form of positive results are slim and with Trump being in full support of the stop and frisk mandate this can only spell trouble in multiple forms in the days coming.

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