Philly Police decreasing use of stop-and-frisk, officials say

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The Philadelphia Police Department recorded 35 percent fewer pedestrian stops in 2016 than a year earlier, and a greater proportion of those stops were made with the reasonable suspicion required by law.


Those findings, to be discussed at a news conference Tuesday morning with Mayor Kenney, Commissioner Richard Ross, and civil rights attorneys, represents progress for the department, which agreed five years ago to submit to federal court monitoring of its stop-and-frisk practices.

Still, the attorneys monitoring the situation contend that too many pedestrian stops occurred without proper suspicion — and only a small number resulted in officers recovering guns or other contraband.


“On the one hand, there’s improvement,” said David Rudovsky, one of the lawyers involved in the case. “But on the other, there’s still a way to go.”

Rudovsky and his colleagues  lawyers with Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, & Feinberg, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania  contend that 25 percent of pedestrian stops in the second half of 2016 were done without reasonable suspicion, suggesting that about 35,000 people were unconstitutionally stopped during the year.

Frisks were worse, they wrote in a report to a federal judge overseeing the case: 27 percent were conducted without reasonable suspicion, and 14 percent were preceded by an unconstitutional stop.





City officials had a slightly different analysis, writing in their own report that fewer than than 20 percent of stops were conducted without reasonable suspicion in the second half of 2016.

Both sides agree, however, that the percentage of improper stops in 2016 was lower than in the year before, a trend city officials have pledged to continue. They credited new accountability policies implemented under Ross, who took over as commissioner last year just after Kenney’s inauguration.

“The reforms instituted in 2016 have brought a new degree of accountability to the process of pedestrian stops,” Ross said in a statement. “And that accountability has translated into the positive trends found in this report. This is an ongoing process, and we are committed to furthering these reforms to the betterment of the entire city.”

























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