Why Stop-and-Frisk is Legal | Terry v. Ohio

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cleveland ohio october 31st 1963.

that's right halloween martin mcfadden a

cleveland detective with 39 years of


gets suspicious when he sees two men

pacing back and forth in front of a

jewelry store the two men

john terry and richard chilton would go

back and forth according to various

reports between 12

and 24 times they took turns starting a

block or two away and then would

routinely walk up to the jewelry store

window to peek in

and return back to chat about it soon a

third man named

carl katz approached terry and chilton

and talked with them

and then left mcfadden had seen enough

after the three men rejoined in front of


a clothing store mcfadden decided to

approach them mcfadden was in street

clothes but identified himself as a

police officer

and asked them for their names after the

men quote

mumbled something in response mcfadden

frisked them

frisk by the way means patting someone

down to search for hidden weapons

or illegal stuff well after mcfadden


the men he found a 38 caliber automatic

pistol in terry's overcoat pocket and a

38 caliber revolver

in chilton's pocket later mcfadden would

argue he only did a pat down

before reaching into their pockets for

the guns although

he never reached into the pockets of

cats mcfadden arrested all three men but

since cats didn't have a weapon on him

the police released him and only charged

terry and chilton with carrying

concealed weapons

at the trial terry and chilton's lawyer

argued the evidence of the guns couldn't

be used in court since mcfadden's risk

of them went against the fourth


it was an illegal search and seizure you


there was this law called the

exclusionary rule the exclusionary rule

said you couldn't use evidence if the

police got it illegally

the cuyahoga county common pleas court

disagreed finding terry and chilton

guilty they ruled that due to both the

suspicious nature of their behavior

and mcfadden's concern for his own

safety the quote

stop and frisk as it's now commonly

known was

reasonable terry appealed to the ohio

district court of appeals which agreed

with a lower court

so he appealed again this time to the

supreme court of ohio

but it dismissed the appeal saying that

it involved quote

no constitutional question by the time

terry had tried to appeal his case to

the united states supreme court

it was 1967 a time when more

and more americans were losing their

trust in the police

especially african americans oh by the


here is what terry looked like here is

what chilton looked like

here is what cats look like

the supreme court did hear arguments on

december 12 1967 the big question

was the stop and frisk of terry and the

other men

a violation of the fourth amendment the

court said

no on june 10th 1968 it announced it had

sided with ohio

it was eight to one they said that the

police could stop and frisk

suspects as long as there was a quote

reasonable suspicion that the suspect

was actually about to commit a crime so

the search and seizure was reasonable in

terry in the other's case

since it did seem like they were gonna

rob that jewelry store

after all mcfadden had 39 years of

police experience so he would know

better than about

anyone what an armed robbery was about

to look like

since this case remains so controversial

today i should bring up the one

dissenting opinion by

justice douglas he strongly disagreed

with the decision

saying quote we hold today that the

police have greater authority to make a

quote seizure and conduct a quote search

than a

judge has to authorize such action we

have said precisely the opposite

over and over again adding quote to give

the police greater power than a

magistrate is to take a long step down

the totalitarian path

perhaps such a step is desirable to cope

with modern forms of lawlessness but if

it is taken it should be the deliberate

choice of the people through a

constitutional amendment

unquote terry v ohio expanded police

authority and crime investigations but

like i said it's very controversial

today as the decision has unintended


today police departments across the

country regularly practice

stop and frisk aka terry stops but many

have called for a

ban on them arguing that terry stops

have in fact

not contributed to a decline in the

crime rate but instead made

systemic racism worse how many times

have you been stopped and fresh

seven times seven times yes and you're

how old 17.

new york city probably has the most

visible and notorious

stop and frisk program but recently the

new york city police department

reassigned its 600 plainclothes

officers in response to systemic racism

after their recent nationwide protests

after the killing of george floyd

still last year 59 of the suspects

stopped and frisked by new york city

police were

african-american despite the fact that

african-americans make up

24 of the new york city population

i'll see you for the next supreme court

case jury

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