Law and Politics

Start Free Trial

How does one write a summary of Margaret Raymond's article "Police Policing Police: Some Doubts," St. John's Law Review, vol. 72, no. 3, 1998?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

To summarize any article, we start by identifying the thesis statement. The thesis statement expresses the writer's claim or opinion, what the writer aims to prove throughout the whole article. The thesis can always be identified first in the abstract, if there is an abstract, then in the introduction. Depending on the length of the article, an introduction may be multiple paragraphs long, but the thesis is always easy to spot because it clearly expresses the writer's debatable, defendable opinion. Luckily, Margaret Raymond's introduction is only one short paragraph long, and her thesis can easily be recognized at the end of the introduction:

I agree with Professor Fyfe's first two points, but have some significant concerns about the third.

The points she is referring to that she agrees and disagrees with can be found in the earlier sentences. She agrees that the decision of Terry v. Ohio grants police an effective tool for investigations. The decision of Terry v. Ohio grants police the authority to stop and frisk based on reasonable suspicion rather than based on probable cause of arrest. It further allows for anything seized during such a frisk to be used in court as evidence. Raymond also agrees with Professor Fyfe's claim that, though the right to stop and frisk is effective for investigations, the tool can often be abused. Raymond disagrees with Professor Fyfe's claim that the way to prevent abuse is by making police chiefs responsible for "developing and enforcing policies" to guide officers in their decisions to stop and frisk.

After we identify the thesis, we continue to summarize by finding the supporting details the author used to prove the thesis.

One reason why Raymond feels justified in believing the decision of Terry gave police an effective investigation tool is because, in reality, police were using the tool well before the decision. The decision of Terry is only important because it widened the scope of what is considered permissible evidence in court. Though the tool of stopping and frisking has always been used, it is important to establish a means of overseeing police decisions because the tool has the potential of being abused.

Raymond argues that abuse can arise because police can be dishonest in their assessment of a situation though not more dishonest than other officials in the legal system. Furthermore, dishonesty can be important in an officer's assessment of justice. For example, an officer may state a lower speed on a speeding ticket depending on what the officer assesses to be the driver's circumstances. Yet, Professor Fyfe asserts that the way to control abuse is to have the police chiefs better police their police, and this is the argument Raymond disagrees with.

The main reason why she disagrees is because she believes police need to rely on their powers of observation based on their professional expertise. There are far too many factors, some even contradictory, that can be applied to judging whether or not behavior is suspicious. For example, on the one hand, not responding to a police officer can peg a person as suspicious, whereas, on the other hand, responding to a police officer can equally peg a person as suspicious. Since there are too many factors for judging suspicion, it's illogical to believe that training manuals and checklists can be created for police to consult to judge if a person should be stopped and frisked. Furthermore, such training manuals and checklists would lead the courts to place more importance on "preapproved factors" than on "independent observation."

In writing a summary, after we figure out what supporting points an author uses to prove a thesis, we next want to look at the final conclusions the author draws.

In her conclusion, Raymond instead proposes that the best solution is for the courts to police the police. In other words, the courts must continue to decide whether or not a police officer justifiably stopped and frisked a person. Doing so permits an officer to make decisions based on expertise and to express that expertise in a court of law.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial