Stop & Frisk: Legal Perspectives, Strategic Thinking, & Tactical Procedures is an excellent new book by Douglas R. Mitchell, JD, MPA, and Gregory J. Connor, MS, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Police Training Institute. In the interest of complete disclosure, I have known both authors for a long time. Doug Mitchell has been a friend, legal contact, and training associate of mine for well over 40 years. I’ve known trainer Greg Connor for almost as long. That aside, this is an incredible text and one that is very timely given all the recent hoopla over “stop, question and frisk.”
Most police trainers are probably familiar with their first text, “Terry Stops: Legal Perspectives and Tactical Procedures.” The initial text first appeared in 2000 with the second edition being published in 2007. I’ve used both in my work as a trainer and court expert.
In what some may call the third edition, Doug and Greg have just released Stop and Frisk: Legal Perspectives, Strategic Thinking and Tactical Procedures. While the phrase “every police professional should have this text in their library” is often over used, I have to attach that mindset to this new manual. Right from the opening pages, this 140 page reference book is loaded with relevant material every police trainer, first- or second-line supervisor and/or academy instructor needs to know. And because of the way this text is laid out, they can have that material right at their fingertips without a lot of online searching.
I can see the influence of both authors in this publication, Doug the legal beagle and Greg the tactician. It’s a winning combo.
Did you ever wonder exactly how the Terry Stop rule came about? You can read all about it in the first few pages. What did Cleveland, Ohio, Police Detective Martin McFadden (the cop who made the stop) know? What did McFadden “see” or more importantly “perceive?” And what part did his training and experience play?
The authors lay this book out in three sections: “Legal Legacy and Contemporary Update,” “Blending Law, Policing and the Community,” and “Police Strategy and Tactics.”
Don’t let the legalese in the chapter headings frighten you. Part One, “Legal Legacy” is simply a recap of the Terry v. Ohio case and the legal and practical lessons learned from it that all street cops need to know. For example, do the grounds for a “stop” automatically permit a “frisk?” In fact, Chapter 3: Understanding Terry v. Ohio can serve as a stand alone basic academy lesson plan on stop, question and frisk.
As a force trainer and court expert, I found the two chapters in Section Two most relevant. Chapter 6: Force and Control and Chapter 7: Bases for Interaction were the most compelling. When does “reasonable suspicion” become “probable cause?” Can “restraints” legally be applied before the frisk?
I’m going to guess that most police training supervisors are going to want to delve deeply into Section Three, especially those tasked with revising their force policy and/or updating their Field Interview Forms (FIF’s). Chapters 8 – 10 will be a tremendous resource tool for doing just that.
Doug was a frequent attendee at the Street Survival Seminars I had the honor of presenting from 1988 through 2000, especially in the great Northwest where he was both a prosecutor and police officer for many years. I can see the influence those programs had on him when I read Chapter 10: Model Policy. He goes to great pains to suggest that officers document such important matters as the subject’s appearance, demeanor and actions, the officer’s prior knowledge of the subject being stopped, the area where the stop is taking place, and other vitally important info sometimes missed or inadvertently left out in FIF’s and/or Subject Management Reports.
All in all, when put into dollar and cents, this is probably the best investment a new street cop, veteran trainer, or academy instructor can make—especially in today’s litigious climate of “stop, question and frisk.”