Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

Should police stops in Missouri copy this approach?

Allegations of racial profiling and other types of unlawful conduct featuring in stops initiated by police officers in St. Louis and other communities across Missouri are hardly novel occurrences.

In fact, high numbers of pedestrian and traffic stops across the state that allegedly result from cops' reasonable suspicions regarding things like ongoing drug activity, weapon concealment and violent crimes bring community-based complaints charging pretense and other unlawful motives for questioning and searching select individuals.

Given a rash of highly publicized adverse police/citizen encounters and materially unfortunate outcomes stemming from stops in recent years, authorities in every state -- and certainly including Missouri -- are increasingly sensitive about the reasons why police officers effect stops and how they go about conducting them.

Police department officials are duly sensitive, too, with there being general alignment between enforcement agencies and the general public that things need to improve.

One state has taken a firm new approach, namely California, where police officers from large urban departments will be tasked from next year with collecting data each time they initiate a stop. One estimate posits that providing a brief written narrative regarding the reason for a stop or search will take about 90 seconds in most instances.

Policy makers in that state intend to closely scrutinize the data and make any changes they deem necessary regarding stops. They further hope that the exaction will better inform officers' decisions regarding citizen detention and lead to fewer cases of profiling.

Missouri authorities certainly note all material attempts from every state that seek to better police/community relations.

Far more improved outcomes are urgently needed, of course. As a media article on California's new program stresses, increased rationality introduced into police stops across America enhances safety for all involved.

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Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

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