In the Philip K. Dick short story Minority Report, the police use "precogs" to stop "precrime." In the NYPD, they use profiling to stop and frisk potential criminals before they break the law. According to the Times, police spokesman Paul Browne believes "the police were confident the tactic was stopping crime before it occurred." Newly analyzed data by The Center for Constitutional Rights suggests otherwise, but there's really no way to know for sure if you've stopped someone from doing something in the future, because we don't have precogs (yet). However, we do know the best way to avoid a stop and frisk.
The most common reason listed by the police for a stop and frisk is "furtive movements." So whatever you do, don't act sneaky when the 5-0 might be watching. Also, don't be black or Latino, because those groups are nine times more likely to get stopped and frisked than whites. Last year the NYPD broke the record for stop and frisks, logging 575,000 stops citywide. The result? 34,000 arrests and the seizure of 762 guns. By comparison, several Bronx churches took in 1,186 guns as part of the city's gun buyback program in a single day in January
But see, those aren't the scary guns, according to Browne; they're the harmless ones owned "by moms and grandmothers." He also insists that the stop and frisks "are not unconstitutional. We are saving lives, and we are preventing crime." But of those 34K arrests, it's completely unclear how many hold up in court. John A. Eterno, a former city police captain who helped computerize the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk data before retiring, tells the Times the tactic could be effective in pushing down crime. But he also says, "My take is that this has become more like a ‘throw a wide net and see what you can find’ kind of thing. I don’t see it as targeted enforcement, especially when you see numbers that we are talking about."