PHILADELPHIA - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia announced today that they have reached an agreement in a federal lawsuit challenging the city's "stop-and-frisk" policies.
Last November, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the law firm of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg filed a lawsuit in United States District Court alleging that thousands of people each year are stopped, frisked, searched, and detained solely on the basis of their race or ethnicity by the Philadelphia Police Department as part of its stop-and-frisk policy. The city of Philadelphia has denied the allegations and has asserted that stops and frisks are important policing methods and are conducted consistent with constitutional standards.
In a settlement agreement and consent decree approved by Judge Stewart Dalzell of the U.S. District Court, the city and the plaintiffs recognize that stop and frisks are a legitimate police enforcement practice and that they must be conducted consistent with constitutional requirements of legal cause and without any impermissible considerations of race or national origin.
As part of the settlement, the Philadelphia Police Department will collect data on all stop and frisks and store this information in an electronic data base. It will also provide officers with necessary training and supervision with respect to stop and frisk practices. Additionally the agreement establishes a monitoring system in which the police department, plaintiffs' counsel, and an independent court-appointed monitor, Dean JoAnne A. Epps, from the Beasley School of Law at Temple University, will review and analyze the data. Dean Epps will have the authority to recommend appropriate practices and policies to ensure that stops and frisks by the PPD are in compliance with the Constitution.
The ACLU and the lawyers for the persons who have challenged the stop and frisk practices stated: "The plaintiffs are pleased that this important issue has resolved without extensive litigation and that the parties can now focus their resources on improving the police department's practices and ensuring that the rights of all residents are protected as the police engage in stop-and-frisk practices."
Plaintiffs are represented by David Rudovsky and Paul Messing of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg, Mary Catherine Roper of the ACLU, and Seth Kreimer of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
The city is represented by City Solicitor Shelley R. Smith, Chief Deputy City Solicitor Craig M. Straw, and Carlton L. Johnson (Archer and Greiner, P.C.).