The Philadelphia Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk still has "serious flaws," according to a report filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The report is the fifth filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Kairsy Rudovsky Messing & Feinberg since they entered into a consent decree with the city in June 2011, following a federal class action lawsuit that accused the Police Department of subjecting black and Latino men to unconstitutional stop-and-frisk searches.
No one expected an overnight fix. The department was required to provide better training for officers, and manage an electronic database that would allow the ACLU to analyze where stop-and-frisk searches were occurring and why.
"Both sides knew it would take some time, but three and a half years later, they still have some substantial problems," said attorney David Rudovsky.
"Our view is that they may not be holding anyone accountable, whether it's the officer on the street, the sergeant or the captain of the district," he said. "The department has done a lot of retraining, but unless you properly supervise and hold people accountable, it's hard to get results."
The report states that out of 2,519 pedestrian stops in the first half of 2014, 37 percent were made without reasonable suspicion.
Of the total number of stops, 433 frisks were conducted; 39 percent were found to have occurred without reasonable suspicion, according to the report.
For the first quarter of 2014, the Police Department pegged the number of stops without reasonable suspicion at a similar rate - 39 percent - but claimed the number of frisks without reasonable suspicion was only at 5 percent.
The report also expresses concern about the number of stop-and-frisk searches that actually yield weapons or narcotics.
Contraband was found in 58, or 2.5 percent, of the 2,519 pedestrian stops. Out of the 433 frisks, only two firearms were seized, according to the report, and in 78 instances where someone was frisked because of a "bulge" in their pocket, a weapon was found once.
"We've had some disagreements on the data analysis," Rudovsky said, "but they certainly acknowledge they're not where they should be."
The attorney said the city will file a formal response to the report once it has had a chance to review the filing. Both sides will likely continue to try and work together at improving the lingering problems.
"You're talking about a city where tens of thousands of people are stopped without cause every year," Rudovsky said. "That's ultimately harmful to police community relations."
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