As public safety is the major role of the police, their ability to conduct the type of routine patrol behavior, like stop and frisk, is to be protected, but recent court actions have hampered that ability, as this story from the Wall Street Journal reports.

An excerpt.

With the New York Police Department facing the prospect of a federal monitor and two new measures designed to rein in stop and frisk, a debate is growing: Will all the scrutiny cause officers to second-guess themselves on the beat?

In more than a dozen interviews across the city, current and former NYPD officers said police are more on edge as they go about their jobs. Some said they are conducting fewer stops out of fear of being accused of racial profiling. Others said they had received confusing signals from superiors and media reports about what the installation of a court-imposed federal monitor, a new inspector general and a bill banning racial profiling would mean.

“No one knows what to expect,” said a patrol officer in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Like nearly all officers interviewed for this article, the officer declined to allow his name to be published because of department policy against talking to reporters without approval.

He said officers were conducting fewer stops in a historically high-crime neighborhood. “There’s nobody here to protect them,” he said of residents. “Proactive policing has given way to reactive policing.”

Stops conducted by city police officers have declined in four of the past five quarters, beginning in 2012, a fall that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly attributed to increased training and a decline in staffing in its impact zones, high-crime areas of the city that in shows of force are flooded with officers who are early in their careers.

Officers interviewed for this article offered another reason: They are concerned about being scrutinized for making stops.