Stop and Frisk: It’s in Philadelphia, Too!


New York isn’t the only Northeastern city with controversial policing practices.

Today, the New York Times has a story detailing Philadelphia’s stop-and-frisk policy.

And while the City of Brotherly Love’s decision to implement stop and frisk remains a topic of debate, the municipality’s officials seem more willing to hear out civil rights concerns than Michael Bloomberg and Ray Kelly, with the Mayor’s attitude toward Philadelphia’s policies being described as “dismissive” by the Times.

“Why would any rational person want to trade what we have here for the situation in Philadelphia — more murders, higher crime?” he told reporters.

So how is Philadelphia different than the Big Apple?

The city decided to implement civil rights safeguards — such as an electronic database to assure the legality of stops — immediately after the practice came under legal fire several years ago, the paper notes.

Street cops have also undergone additional training and are kept in checked by an “independent monitor.”

However, there’s a problem cited by law enforcement officials: even though stop and frisk is being carried out with more sensitivity, it’s unclear whether it was that effective of a policy in the first place.

Murder rates in Philly have swelled since 2010, increasing for the first time since 2007. The upswing is largely fueled by an increase in gun violence.

However, this takes place at the same time stop-and-frisk efforts have been bolstered.

In 2007, cops made 136,711 stop-and-frisk moves, the Times notes. Two years later, in 2009, those doubled to 253,276 — “higher proportionally, in a city of 1.5 million, than the 685,724 stops made by police officers in New York last year.”

Cops there say that cuts to police department staffing and continued struggles with guns have worsened an already bad situation. They also counter that stop and frisk did have a direct impact for a temporary period, with a measured 22 percent decrease in gun-related homicides from 2007 to 2009.

We reached out to the Mayor’s office to see whether he thought there might be a way to carry out effective policing and protect civil rights — whether any lessons might be learned from Philly, despite its problems — and whether he is as “dismissive” of that city’s policies as he’s made out to be. We’ll update if we hear back.


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