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14 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y 419 (2007)
Strolling While Poor: How Broken-Windows Policing Created a New Crime in Baltimore

handle is hein.journals/geojpovlp14 and id is 425 raw text is: Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy
Volume XIV, Number 3, Fall 2007
Strolling While Poor:
How Broken-Windows Policing Created a
New Crime in Baltimore
Reed Collins*
As the practice of zero-tolerance policing strategies has surged across
American cities, there has been no shortage of law review articles questioning the
legality of the stop and frisk tactics used by many police officers, who often
hold only vague suspicions of misconduct by the people they accost and search
on the street.1 In an article criticizing the targeting of African Americans for
excessive and disproportionate searches and seizures, Tracey Maclin describes
a typical police encounter in a black neighborhood near Pittsburgh:
At 3:10 in the afternoon, the police and the young black men standing on Amity
are playing the usual cat-and-mouse game. Two officers in a cruiser drive
slowly past the men and stare, silently sending the word: don't hang too long.
The men shrug the police off, walking casually away, but only until the car is
out of sight. Then they re-group. The game continues for the rest of the day and
into the night. Police drive quietly by three more times. On the fourth pass, they
order the men to move on or someone's going to jail. Finally, two of the men
give it up and leave for home. On the way, police stop and search them. An
officer notices a marijuana cigarette on the sidewalk and asks where it came
from. The men say they don't know. The police let them go. A half-hour later,
officers stop three more of the original group on Amity Street and pat them
down. No arrest is made. But the message has been sent.2
* Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. 2007; Harvard University, A.B. 2004. The author would
like to thank Professor Peter Edelman, David Rocah, and Deborah Jeon for their thoughtful guidance and
insight toward preparing this essay, as well as Marian Fowler, Kana Ellis, Kevin Hsu, and the journal staff
for their outstanding editing.
1. See, e.g., Steven Zeidman, Policing the Police: The Role of the Courts and the Prosecution, 32
FoRDHAM URB. L.J. 315, 343 (2005) (noting that according to stop-and-frisk forms filled out by New
York police officers, approximately 80% of those stopped and frisked were mistakenly or improperly
stopped-a figure that does not even account for the 80% of stop-and-frisk encounters in which officers
fail to fill out a form in the first place). See also David A. Harris, Factors for Reasonable Suspicion: When
Black and Poor Means Stopped and Frisked, 69 IND. L.J. 659 (1994); L. Darnell Weeden, It Is Not Right
Under the Constitution to Stop and Frisk Minority People Because They Don't Look Right, 21 U. ARK.
LrrrLE ROCK L. REV. 829 (1999).
2. Tracey Maclin, Race and the Fourth Amendment,51 VAND. L. REV. 333, 333 n.1 (1998) (quoting
Ann Belser, Suspect Black Men Are Subject to Closer Scrutiny from Patrolling Police, and the Result Is
Often More Fear Antagonism Between Them, Prrr. POST-GAz7rE, May 5, 1996, at A15).

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