Experts Question Action of Baltimore’s Batts in “Stop and Frisk” Case


Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has pledged that his department would responsibly use the controversial tactic known as “stop and frisk.” As an example to the public and his officers, he described making such a stop himself. Experts tell the Baltimore Sun that Batts’ example — he said at the time that he searched somebody based on a tip that the person was a hit man for the Black Guerrilla Family gang — may not meet the standards for such stops.

Batts said he and a security team conducted an “investigative stop” based on information from a confidential informant. Batts had “credible, reliable information” that the man was “known to carry a gun,” but police did not find one. Retired federal judge Nancy Gertner, who teaches at Harvard Law School, said, “Reasonable suspicion requires information that is keyed to current observations.” Columbia University law Prof. Jeffrey Fagan said Batts’ justification wouldn’t be proper “in a million years.” But Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska who was an expert witness in the New York City stop and frisk case, said Batts’ stop was “probably” justified because he had specific information about a person.

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