The ‘Terry Stop': Stop and Frisk Comes to Philadelphia

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  • Philip Nace should thank his lucky stars he’s never run across anyone like Mumia Abu Jamal.

    Nace is the lead character in a YouTube video that was recently posted. Nace, a white Philadelphia cop, and his partner – also white – subjected two black men to what is known as a “stop and frisk” on Sept. 27.

    That’s also called a Terry stop. The criterion for a Terry stop is this: a police officer has to observe someone that he has “reasonable suspicion” to believe has either committed a crime, or is about to commit a crime.

    What did the two black men do that caused Nace and his partner to go postal and stop them? They said, “Hi,” to a guy sitting on some steps. The guy was a stranger.

    Yes, BAW readers, I’m afraid the practice of “stop and frisk” has come to this.

    One of the men stopped tries to record the incident on his cell phone. Nace orders him to stop recording, an indication that the cop is, to use George Zimmerman’s now notorious wording, “up to no good.”

    If it were a legal Terry stop, if Nace were doing things by the book, he should have welcomed a recording, not stopped it.

    Turns out, he didn’t. The “suspect” just dropped the cell phone to the ground. Viewers can’t see much, but they get to hear everything this rogue cop said.

    Nace began by asking the “suspects” why they talked to the man, and then told them “You don’t say ‘hi’ to strangers.”

    “Not in this neighborhood,” his partner added.

    Once again, let’s review the criteria for a Terry stop: the officer has to have a “reasonable suspicion” that a suspect has either committed or is about to commit a crime.

    Saying “hi” to a stranger is not, I believe, a crime. Not even in the town either ironically or cynically named “The City of Brotherly Love.” (Philadelphians might have to correct me on this.)

    Nor should saying hello to a stranger an indication that someone is about to commit a crime. Long story short: Nace and his partner made an illegal Terry stop.

    And they did much more than that. They were insulting, rude and, at times, downright bilious.

    One of the “suspects” tried to explain to the cops that he was simply on his way to work and had done nothing. He and his companion were from Camden, the “suspect” said.

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