The street stop is the action of an officer stopping and questioning a pedestrian as a result of suspicion that the pedestrian is or was engaged in unlawful activity. Consequently, this may result in a limited search referred to as a frisk. In the event that the officer has probable cause that the pedestrian took part in a crime, this could result in a full-body search. Therefore, random frisk searches of pedestrians should only be carried out on the basis of reasonable suspicion.
Various Supreme Court cases have established the use of pedestrian stops and reasonable cause. While the constitutionality of pedestrian frisking is documented in the United States, legal precedent does not guarantee that officers are applying the conditions of reasonable cause or suspicion as intended. The downside of street stops may often be used excessively or inappropriately. While pedestrian stops may prevent crime, they also present an opportunity for police officers to abuse their powers.
Frisk searches of pedestrians can be constitutional policy for a police department but should be carried out by well-trained and accountable officers. This will ensure that stop searches are justifiable, productive, and effective.