'Stop and Frisk' Raises Anxiety Levels

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A controversial policy used by the New York Police Department that involves stopping, questioning and frisking mostly minority young men lead to elevated levels of anxiety in those men, according to a new study.

Amanda Geller, PhD, of New York University (with Columbia University when study was conducted), and colleagues interviewed more than 1,200 New Yorkers aged between 18 and 26 years old. Most of the participants were young black and Hispanic men, those most likely to be interrogated by police under the “Stop and Frisk” program.

The participants were asked about encounters with police and the courts, as well a questions related to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Participants who had more encounters with the police tended to have more anxiety symptoms that those with few or no experiences, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Our findings suggest that any benefits achieved by aggressive, proactive policing tactics may be offset by serious costs to individual and community health,” the researchers wrote. “Less invasive tactics are needed for suspects who may display mental health symptoms and to reduce any psychological harm to individuals stopped.”

However, the researchers noted that some participants may have exaggerated their experiences and those who were stopped that had mental illness may have escalated the stop.

Anxiety Levels High in Young Men Involved in 'Stop and Frisk'
Anxiety Levels High in Young Men Involved in 'Stop and Frisk'

Young men stopped by police reported they had elevated anxiety levels and other trauma from the encounters, according a new study published, raising fresh concerns about the New York Police Department's stop and frisk policy.

The study published in the American Journal of Public Health surveyed 1,261 New Yorkers age 18-26 — those most likely to be stopped by police, mostly young black and Hispanic men. The results add to the growing dialogue about the contentious tactic known as stop, question and frisk.

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