POLICE PATDOWNS: Stops over suspicion spike with violent crime - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

POLICE PATDOWNS: Stops over suspicion spike with violent crime in Minneapolis

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Minneapolis police have increased patrols on the city's north side, but is it coming at a price? FOX 9 News looked into the number of people being stopped simply for suspicion as violent crimes rise.

The suspicious person stops often involve some kind of pat-down, and police in high-crime areas claim the practice is essential in deterring crime; however, that doesn't make it any less controversial.

"'Get your hands against the car! Come here!'" Jamal Willey recalled aloud.

For young, black men on the north side, the stop-and-frisk procedure can be an all-too-familiar drill.

"They say, 'Put your hands up! Lift up your shirt.' No probable cause or nothing," Jeremy Miller told FOX 9 News.

Willey and Miller told FOX 9 they both have been stopped a half a dozen times in the past couple of months. They never had guns or drugs, and they weren't arrested -- but they're hardly alone in their experience.


THE NUMBERS

- Suspicious vehicle stops are up 30 percent from last year
- Stops of suspicious people on foot are up 43 percent
- Violent crime in the area is up 16 percent over last year, 35 percent over the past two


On the north side alone, police have stopped nearly 6,000 people. Police say that's because of better reporting and a greater police presence. There are 14 additional officers walking the beat there.

Yet, there are no numbers on how many of those stops actually result in an arrest -- or even charges.

"It just builds up the animosity we already had against them," Willey explained. "I'm saying, 'Y'all supposed to be working for us, not against us.'"

The Minneapolis Police Department does not have a stop-and-frisk policy per se. Instead, they basically follow the Supreme Court decision from 1968 that requires "reasonable suspicion" that a crime is being committed, about to be committed, or that a suspect is armed. The reason, however, must be "articulable." That means police have to be able to spell it out.

"To me, the police force is just a culture and a gang of folks in blue with a badge," Kenneth Brown, former chair of the city's Civil Rights Commission, told FOX 9 News.

Brown argues the police stops should be challenged on constitutional grounds, similar to what recently occurred in New York City.

"If you turn left and don't turn your blinker on, does that make you a suspicious vehicle? Or, if you switch lanes without turning your blinker on, does that make you a suspicious vehicle?" he asked. "People do that all over the city. Why is it just the north side and the loop area?"

For police, the problem is something of a catch 22. North side neighbors cry out for a greater police presence, which usually means more police stops -- possibly stopping the very people they're trying to protect and serve.

"It's like us vs. them, and we're not going to win," Miller and Willey remarked.

Research is currently being conducted on whether the stop-and-frisk approach actually reduces crime, but the results are mixed so far. Part of the problem is that it's difficult to separate out what is effective -- the police presence itself or the patdowns.

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