KRMF and ACLU Issue Report Finding Continued Pattern of Unlawful Stops and Frisks by Philadelphia Police

KRMF along with its co-counsel ACLU of Pennsylvania filed its Fifth Report on February 24, 2015 as part of the monitoring process in Bailey v. Philadelphia, a lawsuit filed in 2010 alleging that Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) officers had a pattern and practice of stopping and frisking pedestrians without legal justification and disproportionately stopping African-Americans. The Report shows that despite having almost four years to improve its stop and frisk practices, the PPD continues to illegally stop and frisk tens of thousands of individuals.

“This report shows that while the police department has made some improvements in its stop and frisk practices, there are still far too many persons—tens of thousands each year—who are stopped and frisked without legal justification. In our view, the city must move very decisively to ensure that stops are made only where there is reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct. Failing such action, we will seek court intervention to secure full compliance with the consent decree,” said David Rudovsky, one of the lawyers on this case.

According to the report, 37 percent of the over 200,000 pedestrian stops in 2014 were made without reasonable suspicion, and thus a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Of the frisks, only 47 percent were made based on reasonable suspicion.

Further, although Philadelphia’s population is 42.26 percent white, 43.22 percent black, and 8.5 percent Hispanic, 80.23 percent of stops were of minorities. The disparity was even greater for frisks, with minority residents accounting for 89.15 percent of frisks. Applying appropriate benchmarks on the issue of racially disproportionate stops, the report states that factors other than race (for example, crime rates and police deployment) do not fully explain the racially disparate rates.

According to the report,  a strong metric for determining whether police were justified in a frisk is the “hit-rate,” or whether weapons or other contraband are seized. Police must have a reasonable suspicion that the suspect is armed and dangerous before a frisk can be conducted.  Yet, in over 99% of all frisks, no weapon was seized.

KRMF and ACLU attorneys will continue to monitor Philadelphia police practices in the wake of these findings.


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