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search and seizure, illegal stops, Kane County Criminal Defense AttorneyAccording to a new report, the rate of the controversial practice known as "stop-and-frisk" in Chicago puts the Second City among the highest in the nation. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released the report last month which examined the use and potential abuse of such procedures and offered recommendations for maintaining public trust.

History of Stop-and-Frisk

A United States Supreme Court decision dating back to 1968 confirmed that police officers are permitted to stop an individual under the reasonable suspicion that he or she has committed or is about to commit criminal activity. Once the individual has been stopped, the officer is permitted to physically frisk the person, but only if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the individual is dangerous or is in possession of a weapon. There is no requirement for an arrest to be made and documentation to be filed after a stop-and-frisk is minimal, which critics maintain creates the opportunity for abuse of the practice.

Concerns in New York City

In a press release announcing the findings of its report, the ACLU made reference to developments related to stop-and-frisk procedures over the last several years in New York City. By 2011, the rate of stop-and-frisk in New York had reached nearly 23 per 1000 residents, complicated by serious charges of racial profiling and discrimination playing a role in the stops. A ruling in federal court in 2013, however, significantly reduced the practice, emphasizing the Fourth Amendment rights of citizens and the definitive need for reasonable suspicion and justification.

Chicago May Be Worse

More than 250,000 stops were conducted in Chicago last year that did not lead to arrest, the ACLU claimed. Put in terms of a per capita rate, more than 93 stops occurred per 1000 residents, more than four times the highest single-year rate in New York City. The ACLU also pointed to the disproportionate racial breakdown of stop-and-frisks, as nearly three out four being conducted on African Americans, who, as a group, represent only about a third of the city’s population.

What Should Be Done?

The ACLU’s report also included a number of recommendations for improving the use the stop-and-frisk practice in an attempt to make it more efficient and constitutional. The group suggested the collection of data on all stops and all physical pat-downs, regardless of a subsequent arrest. The data would be made available to the public so that police departments could be held more accountable for the actions of their officers. Regular and ongoing training regarding lawful and appropriate use of stop-and-frisk procedures are also necessary, according to the report, and would demonstrate law enforcement’s commitment to the right of public citizens.

Illegal Search and Seizure

If you have been charged with a weapons or drug offense as the result of an unwarranted stop-and-frisk, you need the assistance that only a qualified lawyer can provide. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Kane County today for a free initial consultation.

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