Regarding Brianne K. Nadeau’s Feb. 17 Local Opinions essay, “End stop and frisk in D.C.”:
Misinformation is being shared about the D.C. police’s use of stop and frisk. It is particularly troubling when this misinformation is from a D.C. Council member. The Metropolitan Police Department does not — and, in the almost 30 years I have been with the department, has not had — a program directing officers to conduct stop and frisk in the manner found unconstitutional in New York. The overwhelming majority of MPD stops are related to traffic enforcement or in response to crimes reported by the community. When crime victims call 911, they describe what occurred and provide a description of the suspect. The responding officers are provided with a “lookout,” the victim’s or a witness’s description of the suspect. MPD will conduct stops of individuals who match that description.
While most stops do not involve a frisk (a protective pat-down for weapons), a police officer can conduct a frisk in the District if he or she has reasonable suspicion that the person has a weapon.
Police may conduct a stop if they observe someone whom they reasonably believe to be involved in a crime or to be armed with a weapon.
Stop and frisks are constitutional, and they are essential in investigating crimes. Crime victims rightfully demand that MPD fully investigate and quickly identify offenders. A quick and thorough police response to the report of a crime, particularly a violent crime, is the police department’s mandate. Failing to stop individuals reasonably believed to be involved in criminal activity would be irresponsible.
MPD is committed to fair, unbiased and constitutional policing — a commitment at the core of all our policies. Banning stop and frisk is asking the police not to make traffic stops or investigate criminal behavior. I think there are very few who think that is a good idea.
Peter Newsham, Washington
The writer is the D.C. police chief.