Streets stops by Holyoke police are being questioned by Massachusetts Cop Block, an organization dedicated to promoting police accountability statewide. (Republican file photo)
- Authorities here continue to conduct street stops that result in drug arrests, according to Holyoke Police Department records
, which don't indicate the alleged actions preceding such stops.
The stop-and-frisk tactics used by some U.S. police departments are a concern for the ACLU and other groups that advocate for civil liberties, including Massachusetts Cop Block
, an organization that aims to promote police accountability in the Bay State. Cop Block has questioned what, specifically, triggers such stops, many of which end with drug charges for suspects.
"What is a 'street stop?' Are Holyoke police doing stop-and-frisk like the NYPD?" the organization asked in a tweet
last week, following coverage
by The Republican and MassLive.com of street stops leading to drug arrests.
officials were not immediately available Wednesday to discuss street stops, which have resulted in three drug arrests since Saturday and numerous other arrests in the past few months.
The tactic has become a hot-button issue across the country. In the nation's largest city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg
has come under fire for stop-and-frisk tactics used by the New York Police Department. Bloomberg says the policing technique, used primarily to remove illegal firearms from city streets, saves lives. Fewer guns, he reasons, means fewer people who are likely to die from guns.
The ACLU and other groups think otherwise, however, pointing out a perceived racial component to stop-and-frisk. About 85 percent of those who are stopped by police in New York are black or Hispanic, which suggests racial profiling by city police, they argue.
A federal class-action lawsuit, which alleges stop-and-frisk violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, concluded last month in New York, though a ruling isn't expected for months.
During the trial, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin
questioned the efficacy and "high error rate" of street stops, only about 12 percent of which lead to an arrest or summons. That means the "reasonable suspicion" used by officers to stop and search potential suspects is wrong about 88 percent of the time, she said. "You reasonably suspect something and you're wrong (nearly) 90 percent of the time," Scheindlin said.
Terry V. Ohio
is the 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lowered the criminal standard for performing street stops, which went from requiring police officers to have "probable cause" to needing only "reasonable suspicion."
This stance is nothing without some sort of display of solidarity with the victims of this torment. If copblock and the ACLU really want to champion the cause, they should all go out to the flats of Holyoke tonight, flag down low riders and speak with these victims about what they've endured. I'm sure they would love the attention.
It's very easy to have your friends at The Republican stir up stories on your behalf while you sit in the comfort of your homes in Amherst and Northampton, but I can't be a true believer of the cause without first hand accounts from the victims.