Is stop-and-frisk right for SF?


Laws that can’t really be enforced effectively have sure been popular lately. Whether it’s Arizona’s immigration law or this little gem under consideration in SF, those looking to lower crime are running out of clear ideas.

This new – for SF, anyway – idea is the “stop-and-frisk” method, which would allow police to stop anyone deemed suspicious and pat them down for drugs or weapons.

What exactly does suspicious mean?

It’s up to the officer.

The practice has already been implemented in Los Angeles and New York. Backers of the idea say it will reduce crime and can be used effectively in the war on drugs.

Opponents say that the law could easily fall to racist leanings and disproportionately hurt blacks and Latinos.

According to a report by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the majority of those stopped under this policy were black or Latino. Out of the  686,000 people stopped in 2011, 88 percent of them were innocent.

Mayor Ed Lee told the Chron that the idea is meant to focus on getting guns off the street and stopping violence, not hurting minorities:

“This is under consideration as a way to make sure that we keep homicides and some of these other violent crime(s) down. I think we have to get to the guns. I know we have to find a different way to get to these weapons, and I’m very willing to consider what other cities are doing.”

Rev. Amos Brown, president of the NAACP’s San Francisco chapter who met with the mayor, said he will support the idea if it can be certain that law enforcement will not employ racist tactics.

Alan Schlosser, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, told the Chron that he disapproves of Mayor Lee’s move. He believes that it goes against policies that the city stands for:

“San Francisco for years has tried to develop … policies that reduce racial profiling. This just seems like a total reverse of that.”

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