I applaud the Queens Ledger for its spot-on opinion piece about the stop and frisk reform recently signed into law (“Stop and frisk changes a step forward,” July 29). The new law bars police from storing the information of innocent people it stops on the street in an electronic database. I want to add a few important points to those mentioned in your piece.
Our city cannot ‘stop and frisk’ its way out of crime. A better policy is essential to building better relations between police and the communities they keep safe. Contrary to what supporters of the database say, the biggest crime-fighting tool is not a massive database of the names of innocent people. Rather, tackling crime is a community-wide effort that involves sensitive yet effective police, vigilant neighbors, and cooperative businesses.
The abuse of the stop and frisk procedure destroys trust amongst these groups, preventing them from working together. Police officers who walk the beat everyday should not be required to implement a policy that has an unnecessarily disproportionate impact on communities of color. Our police officers have a challenging enough task without the added burden of facing hostile and distrustful residents. Just as important, these communities should not be made to feel they are being targeted for no legitimate reason.
Police need every reasonable, and most importantly, Constitutional tool available to them. Stop and frisk is but one of these tools. The reform that just passed removes an incentive for stops that do not have a clear crime-fighting purpose. Reasonable suspicion and not the pressure to build a database should guide police officers when considering whether to stop someone in the first place.
I encourage the State Legislature to continue to review the stop and frisk policy for further reform.
CM Daniel Dromm
25th Council District