How New York's 'Stop and Frisk' Compares to Britain's 'Stop and Search'

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warns that his city could return to the bad old days of high crime without 'stop and frisk.' That's the policing policy that a federal judge struck down yesterday. The judge ruled that New York police have systematically violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of people by wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men. Britain has its own version of 'stop and frisk." It's called 'stop and search,' and it's controversial there as well. Nick Glynn is 46 and black, and he says he's been stopped and searched about 30 times in his life. But Glynn also has an unusual perspective. He's a cop, an inspector in the Leicestershire police force. So Nick, tell us, please, about your most recent experiences being stopped.

Nick Glynn: In the city where I live, I was going into a club, and I showed my, I only had my police ID card on me, I didn't have any other form of photo ID. And I got grabbed by two police officers in front of everybody because they didn't believe that my ID card was a real police ID card, and I think really they didn't really believe I was a police officer.

Werman: Yeah, I'm sure that's happened before, but I mean, what happens typically when you show your badge or your ID, or say you're a serving police officer?

Glynn: Well, I get a variety of reactions. Sometimes it's fine, and other times, like this one, it hasn't made any difference to be honest, and it ends up being a really unpleasant experience actually.

Werman: Why do you think you get stopped like this, 30 times now, in the first place?

Glynn: Well, certainly the most recent occasions, the last two or three occasions when I've been picked out, as I would call it, I'm sure that's because of my color. A previous time I was stopped, again in this same city, driving, and for the first time ever I actually made a formal complaint about that because it was so obvious that was the only reason I'd been stopped. And the officer said it was basically because there was something wrong with my tire, which I genuinely thought, he's just made that up, that's just an excuse.

Werman: You're basically saying you get stopped because you don't look like other cops. How do you not get furious when these events happen?

Glynn: Well, ironically, because I'm a cop, and so I know how conflict works. Every stop and search, stop and frisk interaction is a conflict and it's a potential conflict that could go wrong, and I know that. So I always ensure that whilst I might be able to express my frustration or whatever, I don't do that by getting angry or by losing my temper or swearing or doing anything that might get me in trouble, if you see what I mean. So that actually does help me.

Werman: And is the racial targeting criticism that "stop and frisk" in New York City has faced, is that also a big issue with "stop and search" in the UK?

Glynn: Yes, it is. I mean it's one of the main reasons why we have the system of recording and monitoring "stop and search" that we have. You can reduce the number of stop-searches and yet still improve safety, you can improve crime reduction.

Werman: How do you do that? Because while minorities and immigrants have understandably been annoyed by "stop and frisk" in New York, others have said it's made their communities safer. How do you get the balance right?

Glynn: By targeting the use of that tactic in the right places on the right people, firstly. But secondly, you use other tactics that aren't so invasive and that are actually far more productive. Make sure that it's based on recent, reliable intelligence, but also training for police officers not only about the knowledge of their powers, but also for them to understand the impact of stopping somebody every time they do it, so the person who's stopped, it's a lifetime event and police officers I think have lost sight of that in general terms. So certainly some training that we put together in the place where I work in Leicestershire has highlighted that to ensure that they think about it before they use the power. And what that does is it makes them sometimes not use the power, because it's the right thing to do not to use the power.

Werman: Nick Glynn, a police inspector in Leicestershire. He's also been stopped and searched many times. He joined us from his home in Nottingham. Thank you very much.

Glynn: My pleasure.

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