- The Washington Times
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday defended the police practice of temporarily detaining and searching civilians on the street known as stop-and-frisk.

Opponents of the practice have complained that it is racist and disproportionately directed at blacks and Hispanics. They have also questioned its effectiveness, a claim its supporters have denied.

Speaking at the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Law Enforcement Training Conference, Mr. Sessions said the policy has reduced crime.

Mr. Sessions made his remarks on the same day the city of Milwaukee will vote to pay $1.9 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Americana Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin alleging its use of stop-and-frisk is racist. The ACLU filed the lawsuit in February 2017 on behalf of six black and Hispanic residents who said they were stopped by Milwaukee police officers solely because of their race.

The attorney general cited a University of Utah study of Chicago homicide rates. Chicago homicides increased 58 percent in 2016 to 754 from 480 in 2015, while stops dropped from 40,000 per month to 10,000 per month, according to the study. It concluded that the reduction in stops has resulted in an additional 236 murders and more than 1,100 additional shootings 2016.

“If you want crime to go up, let the ACLU run the police department,” Mr. Sessions said. “If you want public safety, call the professionals. That is what President Trump believes, and that is what I believe.”

Research has generally been mixed on stop-and-frisk. A 2012 University of Missouri study found the practice had a limited effect, while another study by Jeffrey Fagan at Columbia University found it had no effect. Yet a 2015 study published in Criminology & Public Policy found it had a significant effect on reducing crime.

In 2016, candidate Donald Trump rekindled a debate over the tactic. During a candidates forum, Mr. Trump was asked how he would stop violence in the black communities. He responded, “I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, and it worked incredibly well.”

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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