The Police Commissioner of the City of New York, Raymond Kelly, would have you believe that if it wasn't for the stop-and-frisk policy of the NYPD, regular law abiding New Yorkers would be the victims of violent crime.
Saving lives, he argues, justifies a policy that a federal judge declared unconstitutional earlier this month–unconstitutional because it casts people as suspicious on the basis of police hunches or mere conjecture. According to the judge, the stop-and-frisk approach is racial profiling, plain and simple.
In the minds of people on the street, stop-and-frisk purports the idea that they may be stopped at any time. And so, the theory goes, they think twice before carrying a weapon and about committing a crime because of the sense of being watched restrains those who would break the law.
This may all be a bit abstract for judges and police commissioners, but what about someone who is a victim of crime? Is their suspicion about the people around them mere conjecture or xenophobic profiling?
There's really no reason why young Brian Beutler is alive today. Beutler is white and was shot three times on a poorly lit street in Northwest Washington D.C. five years ago by two young black men who tried to steal his cell phone.
In D.C., there is no stop-and-frisk policy. What he believes about the value of stop-and-frisk, and profiling, might just surprise you.