I'm stopped a lot in my neighborhood by the police. I think it's because of my ethnicity. Can the police do this?
Regardless of the way a person looks, the type of neighborhood, or the time of day, an officer can detain someone only if the officer can point to objective circumstances showing a reasonable basis that the person is engaged in suspicious behavior. Objective circumstances are those which, when viewed by any reasonable officer in the shoes of the officer involved, would lead that officer to conclude that criminal activity is afoot.
Undoubtedly, however, some police officers illegally use stop and frisk to harass “undesirables,” confident that they can later articulate enough circumstances to justify the detention. Again, for their own personal safety, people who believe that they are unfair targets of police harassment should put their claims before a judge rather than act belligerently on the street.
by: Sara J. Berman