Refresher: Stop-and-Frisk

Stop, question and frisk, also known as “Terry stops”, “Terry frisks”, or “pedestrian stops”, should only be used when legally/constitutionally justified, and they should be conducted with the highest levels of professionalism, respectfulness, restraint and empathy. Some important points to remember:

1. Stop and frisk are two separate acts with two separate legal standards. For the stop only (no frisk), officers must have reasonable suspicion that an individual is about to commit/has just committed a crime.

2. If the officer chooses to stop and frisk, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that the individual is armed and presently dangerous. Note that it is unconstitutional to conduct a stop and frisk to search for drugs.

3. When patting down a person’s outer clothing during a stop and frisk, if it becomes immediately apparent that what the officer is touching is contraband, the officer can seize the drugs.

4. Stop and frisk has increasingly led to negative citizen reactions to police behavior, likely because of its excessive use in searching for drugs. Stop and frisk should only be used when constitutional, within high-violence areas, and with professionalism, respectfulness, restraint, and empathy.

In an effort to provide helpful suggestions in areas that have not yet been fully studied or evaluated, we have included ideas for responses and activities that may not yet be considered evidence-based or evidence-informed. Therefore, not all actions and strategies included within this App are evidence-based or evidence-informed.