PHILADELPHIA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has released Wasted Resources: The failures of stop-and-frisk in Philadelphia, a policy paper examining the illegal use of stop-and-frisk in Philadelphia over the past 15 years. 

Nearly 15 years after the ACLU of Pennsylvania, a professor from Penn Law School, and the law firm Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin LLP filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia over its police department’s illegal and racist use of stop-and-frisk, the police tactic remains an area of great concern for civil libertarians. 

In 2011, the city and the plaintiffs reached an agreement in Bailey v. City of Philadelphia that resulted in a consent decree that included an independent monitor of the city’s stop-and-frisk data. Last year, the Bailey consent decree led to a citywide program that deprioritized the use of stop-and-frisk for minor offenses. The ACLU of Pennsylvania and other criminal legal reform advocates consider this program a success. 

“What this policy paper tells us is that stop-and-frisk has historically not offered a meaningful solution to violent crime,” said Mary Catherine Roper, civil rights attorney at Langer Grogan & Diver P.C. and former deputy legal director at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “It also shows that stop-and-frisk has always been associated with racial disparities and racial targeting. There should be no discussion about increasing the use of this tactic until the Philadelphia police show that they can use it both legally and equitably. We urge city leadership to stop invoking this failed police tactic that impacts Black and brown Philadelphians as a political football.”

That data shows that city police officers are still stopping and frisking people without having reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or that the person is armed and dangerous. Wasted Resources: The failures of stop-and-frisk in Philadelphia offers a deep dive analysis on the outcomes of the Bailey consent decree.  

“Calling out stop-and-frisk as the failed and racist policy that it is is as important now as it was in 2010. That’s because the current mayoral administration’s rhetoric threatens to undo all the progress we’ve made since we filed the Bailey lawsuit,” said Solomon Furious Worlds, staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “With community advocates engaged on this issue and pushing for something better, as well as the ongoing monitoring under the Bailey consent decree, we can hope to prevent the city from regressing back to failed policing tactics and begin to invest in the programs and services that truly make Philadelphians safe.” 

You can read Wasted Resources: The failures of stop-and-frisk in Philadelphia here.

You can find a recording of today’s press briefing here