By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A federal judge in New York says she’s not putting an end to the city police department’s ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ policy, but changes will be made (see related story). The judge says the police deliberately violated constitutional rights of thousands of New Yorkers.
In Philadelphia, a similar lawsuit over the Nutter Administration’s policy of Stop-and-Frisk resulted in a settlement agreement two years ago, so Monday’s ruling will have no impact here.
Unlike the Bloomberg Administation, the Nutter Administration responded to its ACLU lawsuit over Stop-N-Frisk by agreeing in 2011 to work on changes, both in training of officers and in reporting incidents.
Civil rights attorney David Rudovsky, who brought the Philadelphia suit, says the mayor’s willingness to work with them puts the city further ahead in reforming the controversial policy:
“It shows the wisdom of the City of Philadelphia two years ago to settle our litigation. We raised precisely the same claims that the federal judge in New York today decided. And so we are a couple of steps ahead of New York, because the city has started to implement some changes in the Stop-and-Frisk program here, under our settlement agreement.”
The mayor’s top attorney, City Solicitor Shelley Smith, agrees that because of that agreement, the reforms of Stop-and-Frisk in Philadelphia are well underway:
“We’re doing that review ourselves. We’re doing it with the plaintiffs’ attorneys and the independent monitor. And we’re figuring out where there are problems and tweaking the issues. So what happened there (in New York) isn’t going to impact Philadelphia at all.”
Those changes, says Smith, include a forthcoming upgrade of the Police Department’s database of Stop-and-Frisk incidents and better training:
“The police department has voluntarily instituted or revised training to address some of the issues that have emerged from its review of the documents pertaining to the stops, in the hope of eliminating some of the problems that it has identified.”
Still, Rudovsky says the federal judge’s ruling in the New York case provides vindication that suit was brought against the Nutter Administration in the first place:
“The patterns of Stop-and-Frisk’s were very, very close in New York and Philadelphia, when you look at the data. The number of stops was very high in both cities, the number of improper stops wever very high. The racial patterns were the same. And the very, very, very low number of guns that were retrieved as a result of these stops was almost identical between the two cities.”
And with a new reporting database coming, Rudovsky says the coming year will prove crucial to Philadelphia’s reform of Stop-and-Frisk.