Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are “misinterpreting” the law that regulates when cops may stop and frisk people on the street, former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Friday morning.
Terry v. Ohio — the U.S. Supreme Court case from 1968 that spells out the reasonable suspicion necessary for a street frisk without arrest — remains “one of great confusion,” Bratton said.
“Here we are, 46 years, 48 years, after that very famous decision, still discussing it, still misinterpreting it, as evidenced by the recent presidential debate, by both the moderator as well as both of the candidates, that it is an issue that is one of great confusion to people, in terms of what we can or we cannot do,” Bratton said, in remarks to a breakfast forum at New York Law School in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood.
Trump, the Republican nominee, injected the issue into the presidential race last month, when he called for a national expansion of stop-and-frisk, the tactic that a federal judge in 2013 ruled was unconstitutional as practiced in New York City, because it largely targeted black and Latino young men, the overwhelming majority of whom had committed no crime. At the Sept. 26 presidential debate at Hofstra University, Trump said the tactic was necessary to control crime, and he cited the city’s crime drop.
Bratton, who retired as commissioner last month after 31 months in his second stint, did not specify how exactly he believes the candidates and moderator misinterpreted the Terry decision, though he said he doesn’t believe Trump’s stop-and-frisk expansion plan is necessary.
Calls to the representatives of the candidates and the moderator, Lester Holt, were not immediately returned.
The overall crime rate in New York City has continued to fall even as the number of documented stop-and-frisk encounters has continued to go down.
In the 2013 case, by which time the stop-and-frisk rate had begun to precipitously fall, an appeals court halted the judge’s ruling on grounds that she had displayed bias, and replaced her. The appeal was not pursued by the newly elected mayor, Bill de Blasio, who settled the case and agreed to cement further curbs to the practice.