In 2011 the New York Police Department made 685,724 stops, which is six times more than conducted by police during Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first year in office. Of this massive number, an even more staggering 605,328 of those people were completely innocent (NYCLU). Stop-and-frisk has been a tool used by law enforcement officials for almost fifty years, but over the past thirty years there has been increased criticism over the number of stops, and more importantly the people statistically targeted for the stops - overwhelmingly African American and Hispanic males. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Police Department have defended the method, however, claiming that it has helped get guns off the streets and decreased the number of homicides. Although it is police officers' duties to patrol the community and monitor suspicious activity in the congested city of New York, does the race of a potential "suspicious" person play a factor in the subsequent stopping and frisking of the individual? If so, what steps are policy-makers taking to protect the rights of all their constituents?.
The stop-and-frisk procedure of recent years essentially bypasses the questioning after the stop and moves quickly into the frisking phase based on the officer's "suspicion". The officer continues to ask questions but is simultaneously frisking the suspect as if they have already broken a law. As stated before, the public opinion regarding cases involving the stop-and-frisk procedure has shifted dramatically from indifference to concern over whether law enforcement officials are racially profiling African American and Hispanic males as criminals based upon their "suspicious" activity. .
In Terry v. Ohio (1968), the Supreme Court made a distinction between an investigatory "stop" and an arrest, and between a "frisk" of the outer clothing for weapons and a full-on search for evidence of a crime.