There was the following sentence in New York Times (January 4th) article titled “The commish, the 2nd time around”:

"On the eve of leaving office, Bloomberg, defensive about the scar on his legacy, noted to Capital New York that in L.A. Bratton — considered the godfather of the sort of aggressive policing tools that have come under fire — was just as much a proponent of stop-and-frisk as Kelly was. “Bratton did more stop and frisks per capita than Kelly did,” Bloomberg said. “They’ll call it ‘frisk and stop’ instead of ‘stop-and-frisk.’”


I understand ‘stop and frisk’ as a flow of in investigating action, but can’t understand how you can physically ‘frisk someone, then stop him.’ Though I may be too literal, it sounds somewhat illogical to me.

What is the difference of meaning here between ‘stop-and-frisk‘and ‘frisk and stop’?

  • 1
    Realistically, "frisk-and-stop" actually entails "stop-and-frisk-and-stop" unless the frisking takes place as the policeman and the citizen walk or run down the sidewalk together (which seems unlikely). Conversely, when an instance of "stop-and-frisk" results in a formal arrest rather than a "You can go now," it too amounts to "stop-and-frisk-and-stop." As choster suggests below, the difference between the two policies may be largely semantic.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 6, 2014 at 4:06

2 Answers 2


I think the key to understanding the quote lies in the previous paragraph:

Skeptics on both sides of the spectrum, from Al Sharpton to former Mayor Bloomberg, suggest the changes on stop-and-frisk may be cosmetic.

Moreover, it all must be put into the context of the entire article, which is not a report on police tactics, but on the differences between the current appointment of Bill Bratton as police commissioner and his previous appointment in 1994 under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The article points out that the new left-wing mayor (and Bratton's boss), Bill DeBlasio, made a major campaign issue of criticizing stop-and-frisk. It is therefore rather unlikely that he appointed Bratton to make the program more aggressive, as suggested in another answer.

The outgoing police commissioner, Ray Kelly, and the outgoing mayor, Michael Bloomberg, are especially criticized for the stop-and-frisk program. But Bloomberg points out that Bill Bratton, if anything, was responsible for an even more aggressive program at his previous appointment in Los Angeles. Therefore, Bloomberg believes that the program will remain, but that Bratton will make very minor changes in order to satisfy critics— changing the name from stop-and-frisk to frisk-and-stop, perhaps.

  • 1
    Right. It's as if a teen delinquency council in the early 1960s decided to condemn "Twist and Shout" music at parties, so performers started releasing "Shout and Twist" songs instead. In context, the Bloomberg quotation sounds thoroughly sarcastic.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 6, 2014 at 4:14

Here is a possible interpretation:

In stop and frisk, you stop a suspicious person and frisk him.

In frisk and stop, you frisk just about everybody and stop whoever has something worth 'stopping' over.

Hence it is a more aggressive methodology.

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