“Stop, question and frisk” is a frequently used tactic that allows officers to intercept people on the street who they deem suspicious. The tactic has gained notoriety of late, however, as many consider it racist: statistics show that most people stopped by officers are black or Hispanic.
“It’s really annoying,” said Alliosha Soriano of Elmhurst. “I don’t know what they mean by suspicious. I think they stop us because we are Latinos.”
“Stopping ‘suspicious’ people is totally racist because they always stop [Hispanics] or blacks,” added Sergio Palmero. “Everyone has the liberty to go wherever they want without the police bothering them.”
Most stop-and-frisks in Queens occur in the neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, along Roosevelt Avenue – directly under the 7 train – and on 37th Avenue, two areas heavily populated by Hispanics.
Last year, of 328 people stopped by officers on 82nd street and Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, 288 were Hispanic. Throughout the entire city, 55 percent of people stopped were African-American, 32 percent were Hispanic, and only 10 percent were white.
Prior to the governor’s legislation, the information of all people stopped by police was entered into a database, regardless of their guilt or innocence. The new legislation has been greeted with enthusiasm by those who deem “stop-and-frisk” racist.
“I‘m happy that they can‘t keep your information anymore, since most people haven‘t done anything,” said Soriano.
“It’s about time something was done about this,” added Magdaline Rodriguez of East Elmhurst. “The database was a violation of people’s privacy.”
Still, some feel that the new law will do little to deter the practice. “They won’t be able to hold your information, but that doesn’t mean they won’t stop you,” said Mike Arbelaez of Flushing.
For others, however, the new legislation hinders the Police Department’s ability to adequately do its job.
“I’m all for ‘stop-and-frisk’ and keeping the database. It’s for my own protection,” said a shopper in Jackson Heights, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I’m all for racial profiling, as well. It’s to keep us safe.”