Date: June 2011
The stop-and-frisk program is an NYPD practice where officers are permitted to stop and question anyone if they have reason to believe they have committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime. If the officer feels that he/she or anyone else is in danger, they have permission to frisk the individual for weapons. Of the nearly 700,000 New Yorkers stopped in 2011, NYPD statistics show that only 1 out of 5 were guilty of any sort of crime. Many have questioned whether or not these stops are based on justifiable suspicion. The program has also been criticized for targeting African-American and Latino males.
In October, a Harlem teenager named Alvin was at the center of a stop-and-frisk controversy after The Nation released a clip that the teen recorded last June. One of the few known stop-and-frisk recordings, it details how Alvin was stopped by the three plainclothes officers for simply "looking back" at them. Officers can be heard asking Alvin, "You want me to smack you?," and explaining that they had accosted him "for being a fucking mutt." At one point during the recording, a cop pins Alvin's arm behind his back and says, "I'm gonna break your fuckin' arm, then I'm gonna punch you in the fuckin' face." Police proceeded to grab him by his bookbag and threw him down a hill. Alvin, who says he got the idea to record the ordeal from his activist stepfather, added that he thought police were trying to make him react so they could make an easy arrest.