The NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk, and the subsequent federal lawsuit against the department, became a big enough news story over the last several years that the practice is virtually synonymous with New York’s Finest. Stop-and-frisk is used in plenty of cities, however, and it’s bad in other places, too. Take Philly, for example.
The Philadelphia chapter of the ACLU released a report this week which analyzed the police department’s use of stop-and-frisk in the first half of 2015. The statistics will look familiar to anyone who followed the battle over the practice in New York: 69 percent of the people stopped were black, 23 percent were white, and seven percent were Latino. Of those who were subsequently frisked, 79 percent were black, 11 percent were white, and 10 percent were Latino. Compare that to the demographics of the city as a whole, as of 2013: 44 percent black, 32 percent white, 13 percent Latino.
In New York, critics also charged that officers often made stops based on little more than hunches, and that the practice wasn’t actually effective at turning up guns, the ostensible reason for it was used. In Philly, too. The ACLU found that 33 percent of stops and 42 percent of frisks there were made without usual suspicion, and only six of 2,380 analyzed stops found guns.
No matter who is managing a police department, and in what city they’re working, it seems that stop-and-frisk leads to racially biased policing that doesn’t make neighborhoods any safer. It’s almost as though there’s something fundamentally wrong, on the very basest level, with the concept of interrogating law-abiding people on the street based on little to no evidence.
They NYPD eventually cut back its use of stop-and-frisk drastically, but only after the issue went to federal court. That, too, may be the case in Philly: The ACLU has said it may seek federal sanctions if things don’t change, Philly.com reports.