It Took 20 Years to Shoot Down Vagrancy Laws. Then We Got Stop‑and‑Frisk
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
As we debate police misconduct, and especially the rampant practice of stopping and frisking, we should remember that these debates are not new. We need to remember what police did before stop-and-frisk, for it gives us three important lessons for today: 1) we have long debated how and under what circumstances the police can exercise discretion; 2) though the police claim that for the most part they do what they do in order to fight crime, they are often also maintaining social controls that reflect majority social mores; and 3) change can happen, even if maintenance of the status quo sometimes looks inevitable.