Resources For Students

Unit 4: Stop-and-Frisk: Fourth Amendment Violation or Necessary for Public Safety?



Some controversies arise when our shared values and principles conflict with one another. Police “stop-and-frisk” policy is one such issue. In stop-and-frisk, police officers stop, question, and conduct a pat-down search of pedestrians or occupants of cars. Some police leaders contend that a stop-and-frisk program is useful to promote public safety. Of course, if stop-and-frisk is not effective, it can be an invasive practice often implemented in a discriminatory way. The conflicting values that arise from stop-and-frisk are public safety on the one hand and privacy and equality on the other.

This unit will give you the opportunity to explore and evaluate this issue through a variety of nonfiction sources, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the authors’ arguments. The focus of this unit is on the close reading of texts, and on building and supporting an argument.

Unit Questions

  • How should we resolve claims that certain police practices violate the principle of equality before the law?
  • Is stop-and-frisk necessary to public safety?
  • When does a police practice amount to a violation of the Fourth Amendment?


Lesson 1: Does NYC’s Stop-And-Frisk Fairly Balance the Interests of Privacy, Equality and Public Safety?

Lesson 2: Does NYC’s Stop-And-Frisk Policy Fairly Balance the Interests of the Fourth Amendment and Protecting Public Safety?

Lesson 3: Should Stop-And-Frisk Be Implemented?