Burdened And Beleaguered Chicago Law Enforcement 'Terry' On In Besieged City
By Stephen Thayer, LELDF Associate
Once again, Chicago is in the news for its record setting shootings and homicide rates. Year to date statistics show 104 shot and killed, 438 shot and wounded. It has been well documented that black-on-black crime is largely responsible for the lawlessness.
The U.S. Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio approved the use of a law enforcement tool, known as a "Terry Stop" or "stop and frisk." This tool allows a law enforcement officer to stop people when there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed and then patting them down to see if they have a weapon on them.
Terry stops are an effective crime fighting tool.
Unfortunately, the ACLU and its former Deputy Legal Director, Vanita Grupta, who until recently was the head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, are making it almost impossible for law enforcement to use this tool.
While all can agree that Terry stops can be abused, the answer is education and training of officers, not burdening officers who properly apply the stop and frisk law, thus curtailing its use.
The ACLU and the Department of Justice have taken their fight against the use of Terry stops one step too far by manipulating data. They allege that Terry stops are disproportionally used in the black communities.
In Chicago for instance, the ACLU of Illinois website said black Chicagoans were subjected to 72 percent of all stops, yet they constitute just 32 percent of the city's population. Their conclusion is that blacks are targeted because of their race and the Terry stops have a disparate impact on blacks, and thus, should be curtailed.
This type of misguided analysis has been used by the DOJ to show discrimination and to form the basis of entering into consent agreements with various police departments across the nation.
What the ACLU is hiding from the public is that, in the deadliest neighborhoods in Chicago, the city’s racial composition includes the following:
- Austin—86.1 percent black, 8 percent Hispanic, and 4.6 percent white
- East Garfield Park—93.3 percent black, 2.2 percent Hispanic and 3.5 percent white
- North Lawndale—91.2 percent black, 5.7 percent Hispanic and 1.9 percent white
- Englewood—96.6 percent black, .09 percent Hispanic and .08 percent white.
Law enforcement officers who patrol those deadly areas and who appropriately apply a Terry stop will stop blacks more than 32 percent of the time. That is just common sense, not racism.
This disingenuous use of data to reach a predetermined conclusion has been the foundation of the misguided and misleading ACLU and the DOJ Civil Rights Division narrative for too long.
They include the populations of neighborhoods that don’t have significant crime for the sole purpose of decreasing the proportion of blacks in the population—all so they can throw down the race card. The purpose of this charade is to get around the Supreme Court’s approval of Terry stops.
Using their manipulated data, the ACLU entered into an agreement with the Chicago Police Department requiring the recording of every stop and frisk encounter. Along with information about:
- the officer who conducted the stop
- the race and gender of the person stopped
- all reasons for the stop
- the location, date, and time of the stop
- whether a pat down or other search was conducted
- whether contraband was found
- the outcome of the stop.
Needless to say, the mandatory reporting, initially a two-page form which was recently reduced to a page and a half, takes officers off the streets and limits their productivity and willingness to work proactively.
Terry stops in Chicago have plummeted at the same time that shootings have skyrocketed. That data, the lack of which was FBI Director Jim Comey’s lament in a prescient speech given at the University of Chicago Law School almost 18 months ago, should be generating life-saving action in the besieged city.