crimes and misdemeanors

Women Get Stopped and Frisked Too

New York Police Department officers walk along a street in Lower Manhattan March 18, 2012 in New York.
Photo: Stan Honda /AFP/Getty Images

The nearly 700,000 stop-and-frisks conducted by the NYPD last year targeted men of color overwhelmingly, but not exclusively. Today, the New York Times reports that among those stopped on the street by police, 46,784 women were women, and 16,000 were frisked. Those searches turned up just 59 guns — which puts the rate of finding a firearm at .13 percent, compared to .12 percent for men — but resulted in 3,993 arrests. (Stop-and-frisks have been known to end more often with low-level weed charges.) An added complication, though, arises when male officers frisk female suspects.

Although many women are under the impression that a female cop must perform the search, that’s not actually in the rules, resulting in incidents that run from embarrassment to humiliation and even harassment. Along with the physical interaction, purses can be fairgame in a search, leading to awkward, or invasive, moments like this one, reported by the Times:

The two male officers crouched over her leather bag and rooted around inside, elbow-deep. One officer fished out a tampon and then a sanitary napkin, crinkling the waxy orange wrapper between his fingers in search of drugs. Next he pulled out a tray of foil-covered pills, Ms. Archibald recalled.

What’s this?” the officer said, examining the pill packaging stamped “drospirenone/ethinylestradiol.”

“Birth control,” Ms. Archibald remembered saying.

Despite some people’s best efforts, that one’s still legal.

Women Get Stopped and Frisked Too