A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health draws a conclusion that should be obvious to anyone familiar with the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactic: If you can't leave your house and walk around outside without fear of police harassment, you're likely to have some adverse psychological effects.
The study, conducted by NYU sociologist Amanda Geller and Columbia law professor Jeffrey Fagan, interviewed 1,261 mostly Hispanic and black young men living in New York about their experiences with the NYPD. Unsurprisingly, they found that if you've been stopped, especially if those stops were frequent or especially invasive, you're more likely to experience symptoms related to anxiety and PTSD—like nervousness, restlessness, or attempting to block the experience from memory—than someone who hasn't been. From the Associated Press:
Interviewers asked dozens of questions about encounters with police and the justice system. Participants were also asked questions related to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, they were asked whether they tried to remove the time they were stopped from memory, and whether they felt nervous or restless in the past week.
The analysis found anxiety symptoms were related to the number of times men were stopped and how they perceived the encounter, and more anxiety among participants who have had more intrusive encounters.
"Our findings suggest that any benefits achieved by aggressive, proactive policing tactics may be offset by serious costs to individual and community health," the authors wrote.
Anyone who'd doubt the study's findings is encouraged to watch this video of a man's emotional breakdown after being pulled off the bus in the Bronx, or read these testimonials form New Yorkers about the helplessness they felt after a particularly nasty encounter with police. This stuff is real.