Stop and Frisk Debate Resonates in St. Louis

Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton disagreed in this week’s debate over the constitutionality of the police tactic known as “stop and frisk,” but there’s some consensus here on when it can and can’t be used.

Police Chief Sam Dotson says his officers do “pat down” people stopped for some other reason, such as to make sure they don’t have a gun but he says his officers don’t frisk people randomly looking for guns or drugs.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)

“When an officer encounters and individual, they have the right to pat them down for a weapon for the officer’s safety,” Dotson said. “They’re not looking for illegal drugs, they’re not looking for contraband. It’s a safety issue; an officer safety issue.”

Attorney Mick Henderson, managing partner with Henderson and Waterkotte, says the courts have ruled the type of wide-open dragnet that police in New York were doing, stopping and frisking just anyone walking down the street, is unconstitutional.

But he says the courts have also ruled it’s OK to search someone under certain circumstances.

“To frisk them, you must believe they’re armed,” Henderson said. “To stop them, there must have been a crime that occurred. Now, if that crime occurred by a young black man in a red sweat shirt with long hair, then if you see someone matching that description you should stop them.”

St. Louis County Police declined to comment on their policy for stop and frisk.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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