The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Stop and Frisk: Experiences, Perceptions, and Public Safety

The Vera Institute of Justice has published a report titled, Coming of Age with Stop and Frisk: Experiences, Perceptions, and Public Safety Implications. The report contains the results of a study launched in 2011 which examined the question: "How does being stopped by police, and the frequency of those stops, affect those who experience these stops at a young age?" The document "explores stop and frisk from the perspective of young people living in some of the highest crime and most highly patrolled neighborhoods in New York City".

The study set out to "explore and measure the experiences of young New Yorkers who had been stopped by police in neighborhoods where street stops are concentrated: East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn; East Harlem; the South Bronx; and Jackson Heights and Jamaica, in Queens. Over the course of a year, Vera researchers surveyed 543 young people, interviewed 43 other youth and their families, and conducted focus groups with community leaders. The findings from this study, while not definitive, provide important evidence--quantitative and qualitative data--about how individuals experience stop and frisk, and the complex ways in which their experiences might affect public safety."

Key findings from the study include:

  • For many of the city's youth, stops are a familiar and frequent experience and are also perceived to be unjustified and unfair
  • Frisks, searches, threats, and use of force are common occurrences
  • Trust in law enforcement and willingness to cooperate with police is extremely low
  • Young people who have been stopped more often are less willing to report crimes, even when they themselves are the victims
  • Half of all young people surveyed had been the victim of a crime