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Ethical Issue of Stop and Frisk Policies

Law enforcement agencies and the police are the forces to protect life, health, rights and freedoms of citizens, foreign citizens, and stateless persons. These forces are also the instrument to discourage crime, public safety, and property. Performing the official duties, the police should focus on the needs of society and the state. This, in turn, should increase the level of public confidence in the police and in each of its individual employees. In order to effectively solve the problems of crime prevention, it is necessary to examine the reasons that affect it and try to eliminate them. Thus, the activities of police officers are aimed at addressing the causes that affect the state of crime. However, the police on their own, without outside help, cannot fully resist crime. Therefore, the solution of these most complex, in terms of our society, tasks simply need the support of citizens and public institutions.

This public support is important, on the one hand, to obtain the information that is necessary for the prevention, detection, and investigation of crimes. On the other hand, the interaction with the citizens increases public confidence in the police, allows citizens to contribute to their own security and to some extent, co-ordinate the activities of the police depending on the needs of modern society and the social order in a particular region. In addition, due to this interaction, the citizens feel the responsibility for law maintenance, social order and public safety, and social problems in the area.

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Public confidence in the police is closely linked to the behavior of the police towards the citizens, in particular within the standards of professional ethics either on duty or in private life. Everything – they look, dress, manner of communication, respect for the fundamental freedoms and human rights, compassion for other people’s problems and troubles, basic attention – helps establish trust.

The frisk is forced investigative action on inspection of objects and individuals in order to find hidden items and documents of probative value for the disclosure crime (FindLaw, n.d.). During the frisk, the investigator and other officials involved in it inspect and investigate housing, various buildings, terrain, clothing, and even the human body to detect the information necessary for the investigation of the crime. The frisk is characterized by the sharp contrast of the investigator and other sides. Coercive nature of frisk and the persons’ contradiction of goals taking part in it cause a conflict situation. Investigators and police officers need to find a gun and objects that are usually hidden by the accused. During a frisk, the investigator is usually very limited having incomplete data on the conditions of its production, facilities to be seized, and their locations. These factors have a negative effect on the hidden objects detection. A frisk action forces the inspector to exercise a variety of psychological qualities, properties, professional knowledge, and skills. Thus, this person must be able to use the factors that contribute to the success of the search. These include the preparation of a frisk, targeted surveillance and correct analysis of the situation on the place of the frisk, the observation of the behavior of a person being searched, etc. Positive or negative frisk results often dependent on the proper preparation of this investigation. Good preparation ensures the timely start of the frisk, the actions planned, the character of the meeting, and the confidence in success. Poor preparation can lead to random, haphazard searches, scouring uncoordinated actions and ultimately, to a null result.

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Conducting a frisk, the investigator must possess professional qualities that are necessary for endurance, self-control and emotional stability. An apartment frisk, personal frisk, and particularly arrest affect substantive rights and interests of one who is being searched, as well as the members of his/her family. The possibility of detection of any crime instruments makes the accused face detention, arrest, severe punishment, or dismissal while his/her family may possibly face possible property confiscation, deteriorating financial situation, and the formation of negative public opinion. The success of the frisk means the downfall of many vital plans for the perpetrator and his/her family; thus, the experience of being searches is rather stressful. All this suggests that in many cases, frisk is a fairly acute conflict situation, which may be accompanied by tension, complex psychological atmosphere, a manifestation of hostility, anger, irritation, attempts to insult, etc. The investigator and employees involved in the frisk are also unable to stay emotionally indifferent and experience a variety of rueful feelings. These include anger, resentment, the desperate desire to find the guilty subjects, determination to overcome the difficulties, etc.

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In some cases, the removal of conflict relations is achieved by explaining the purpose and need for the frisk in connection with certain actions of the searched person’s past. A method of influencing the suggestion in the form of an order can be used in case of complicated conflict situations during the frisk, which will enable the searched to dramatically change the behavior. The second task for the investigator is to establish voice contact with the person searched during the frisk. The voice contact can solve several tasks: persuasion, observing the reaction of the person being searched, finding out the connections of the detected objects with others, etc. During the frisk, the investigator should use his communicative skills at maximum to draw the person being searched into the conversation, practice asking questions, etc. The speech of the searched person is the evidence of his/her internal state, attitude to the actions of the investigator or various topics. Moreover, the tone of voice and the manner of speaking are more likely to give out the real relationship information people than the reaction itself. Speech communication in the process of a frisk is used to develop specific methods of influence, which has been called verbal intelligence. According to this method, the investigator asks about the location of the premises being searched, the role of an item, the inhering of certain things, etc. In this case, the action takes a new additional stimulus – the verbal, which further strengthens the processes of emotional arousal of the one who is being searched, complicates the ability to control over their own behavior and reactions. The verbal stimulus is enhanced when the questions are based on the frisk situation. Still, more important is the observation of behavioral reactions of the one being searched. These behavioral reactions can be classified into an attempt to divert the attention of the investigator from viewing certain sites and objects; disrupt the investigator or to stop him; mask or block access to some parts of the room or certain subjects; suggest the inadvisability of frisks in certain parts of the room or insignificance of any objects. Commitment and determination of the investigator during the search can be crucial for success. It is useless to reckon upon an easy victory; however, one should not give up at the first failure. The successful implementation of a frisk is an important display of the investigator’s vigilance. The lack of diligence of the investigator, the weakening of control over the behavior of the accused and his/her family members can lead to very undesirable consequences.

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During the frisk, the investigator must not forget about the moral and ethical principles. From the beginning to the end of the frisk, the investigator must be polite and correct; he should avoid rudeness, insults, and make no threats. The investigator may experience feelings of anger, indignation, a condemnation against the searched person, but all this does not relieve him from having to be restrained, particularly to family members and even neighbors of the one being searched. A great sense of tact is required of an investigator in the study during the search of documents, evidence of personal, intimate life of the person being searched, correspondence, photographs, and diaries. Questions and psychological problems tend to occur at the very beginning of a search when one needs to decide on the method of entry into the apartment of the accused to exclude from him the possibility of resistance, destruction or concealment of crime instruments, property and critical evidence in the case. When a search necessary considers education, cultural background, occupation, knowledge, intellectual skills being searched, which is of considerable importance when choosing where and how the shelter. Focusing on basic psychological laws, the offender understands that the investigator developed psychological setting a mandatory search, blunted attention to what is on the mind, and that is trying to take advantage of. The cultural and educational level of the person, his profession, interests largely determine the conditions of life, the nature of the situation in the apartment, and thus objectively determine the specific objects, objects to be examined during a search. Therefore, all these social and psychological characteristics of the accused require its analysis during the search. A search of the premises, as a rule, is accompanied by a personal search, as the required items can be found directly at the defendant, certain members of his family. It should be noted, that the personal search for the purpose of removal of weapons is one of the necessary means to ensure the safety of the frisk and all those present, and, therefore, it should be carried out immediately before the start of the investigation. As for a more thorough personal frisk of the accused, his/her family members in order to detect objects and documents that may be relevant to the case, then it is better to hold on to the final stage. At the same, the basic moral and ethical principles to ensure the safety, health and personal dignity of being searched shall remain in force. The discovery during a search of the accused incriminating items puts him in a difficult psychological situation, resulting in the disruption of many mental processes that weaken the strong-willed installations aimed at concealing involvement in the crime. Given this, it is advisable to make a frisk after questioning and confrontation to secure during the search information with new data. In place of the frisk a strict discipline should be set, banned foreign conversations, unnecessary walking and other distracting activities that are not caused by necessity.

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In the same section, we will focus on the issue of the detention of the suspect. Consideration of the psychology of two such independent investigations as frisk and arrest, at one point, is due to the following circumstances. In most cases, frisk and detention – where investigations are carried out at the same time as pursuing a search of the premises and the purpose of detection and apprehension of wanted persons, and detention is necessarily accompanied by a personal search. In psychological terms of search and detention, despite a number of differences have many similar features.

Compared with other investigative actions detention has the most stressful nature. It is expressed in real danger to the life and health of the participants of the investigative actions of others, suddenly changing situations of detention, the need for in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the situation, etc. In this regard, the presence of the above factors many very different mental processes occurs at employees involved in the arrest. Certain of their disorganization, discontinuity of thinking, a sense of fear, anxiety, danger, reducing the amount of attention – all this requires an accounting system of mental and physical training, specific training. Therefore, not every investigator or employee of inquiry can successfully carry out arrests. In the process of planning and implementation of the detention reflexive management of the investigator, which is the ability to host the event, taking into account the individual characteristics of the suspect, the current situation is likely to command a person to deprive him of the possibility of escape, forced to surrender, etc. play a big role.

We have already noted that the psychological aspects of training to arrest and frisk are very similar. These include a study of the identity of the suspect, the situation alleged places of detention. This information is needed to decide on the time, place and manner of detention. Always bear in mind that even if data are available, positively characterize the suspect, it is impossible to exclude the possibility of resistance, including armed. That is why to do everything to ensure the safety of all participants in detention is so necessary in each case. The probability of resistance during the arrest is particularly common in offenders, which is characterized by persistent anti-social orientation, malice, aggression, desire for violence, psychopathic traits, and extreme forms of selfishness.

In stressful situations, arrest suspect behavior is largely determined by its emotional and volitional characteristics. Aggressive, vicious, incontinence, inability to control himself, swagger, hysteria, susceptibility to affective outbursts – all these qualities are suspected to increase the possibility of their resistance. Psychological analysis requires selection of detention. In practice, there are situations where the detention has to be carried out without any prior training, are forced to do the circumstances. However, in many cases, selecting the optimal variant of detention is possible. In situations where the offender is unable to escape, cause harm to others, but is in a state of intense excitement caused by fear, despair, hate, alcohol intoxication, narcotics, has lost the ability to self – the policeman should not be in a hurry to capture one depicted above. It makes more sense to give the offender the opportunity to recover.

An effective means of psychological warfare is the belief in the appropriateness of the criminal voluntary surrender. Here negotiations, however, can benefit only if the knowledge of the psychological characteristics of the individual detainee and they’re intelligence is used. Participating in such negotiations makes sense to invite the people to whom the detainee nourishes the good feelings whose opinion he values: his parents, children, relatives, and friends.

In conclusion, I can only say that ethics is somewhat a practical philosophy. It is studied not only to know what virtue is but in order, first of all, to be virtuous. The purpose of ethics – is not knowledge, buying behavior. It is not a substitute for a live person in his individual moral effort and cannot be removed from the person responsible for the decisions or at least mitigate it. Ethics cannot hide, one can rely on it. It can help someone, who is looking for help, sincerely wishes to eradicate the evil in ourselves and help others to become better and make a better world around us.