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that make it necessary to live life in hyper vigilance and fear. The negative impact on the self-esteem of minority youth is not conducive to fostering positive relations between the police and
Perhaps, most concerning is that the policy of stop-and-frisk is more likely to reach a goal
that is oppositional to its alleged mission. If the intention of stop-and-frisk is to reduce crime, it
may actually increase crime. The young people interviewed for this article all said that they would
not call the police if they were in danger and would likely not call the police if they witnessed a
crime. They cited general police mistrust and a lack of faith in the police as primary reasons for
their feelings. The young people felt that the police likely would not come in a reasonable time
and if they did, the police would act negatively towards the young people even if they were victims.
Alarmingly, they also said that they mostly did not feel safe in their respective neighborhoods.
These responses reflect the greater issue with stop-and-frisk policies. It is not just the law that is
unfair. Young people recognize these actions as the policing of people of color through state
sponsored violence as a part of systematic racism. Further, the policy of stop-and-frisk as a part of
police policy makes the job of policing more dangerous and less effective because of widespread
community distrust of the police.
Overall, the interviews with Chicago youth demonstrate what statistics support: the
disproportionate impact of stop-and-frisk on minority communities. The need to improve the stop-
and-frisk policy is imperative, particularly in light of statistics about the incarceration of minority
youth. The stop is the first encounter that youth have with law enforcement and currently that
encounter is not a positive one, and that must change.
The Illinois legislature has made changes to the Illinois statute regarding temporary
questioning without arrest. This statute, entitled “Temporary Questioning Without Arrest” requires
that the officer provide the person he has stopped with a “stop receipt” that contains the reason for
the stop, the officer’s name and badge number. However, there is currently no oversight to ensure
that these “stop receipts” are distributed and that they include adequate facts that support a lawful
stop. The first step to improving Chicago’s stop-and-frisk policy is to create that oversight within
the department to ensure the statute is being adhered to.
Second, the data from these stops that is recorded needs to be available to the public. Access
to this data would ensure community oversight and create transparency around the policing
matters. Further, access to this information would undoubtedly make communities feel that they
could better trust the police.
Lastly, police policy needs to include members of the community and specifically youth in
Chicago. The myth of an uninformed youth must be done away with. Even if the youth do not
necessarily understand the law, their voice is still needed. Youth stand to be impacted by policy
and have genuine concerns about the police being able to police. Respecting the youth’s voice in
these matters could open up the possibility for stronger community ties in the future. Further,
inclusion of the community would demonstrate to the community that police officers are there to
serve them and allow for more safe communities and less discrimination against minority children.