A group of civil rights lawyers have found that over one-third of all stop-and-frisks conducted by the Philadelphia Police Department in the first half of 2015 were done without any reason for suspicion. This is not the first time that the practices of Philadelphia’s police force have been under question.
A federal consent decree has been in place on the department since 2011 and has found that 33 percent of all stops and 42 percent of all frisks were not due to suspicious activity. Out of those incidents, it has been found that approximately 69 percent of stops and 57 percent of frisks were of black residents, who only make up 44 percent of Philadelphia’s general population.
The study was not able to explain the disparity between races with any non-racial factors. However, Commissioner Richard Ross seems to feel otherwise and has opposed all allegations of police misconduct. Ross reported in a news conference that the gap is not a result of bias; instead, he says this is a response to a need for police presence in primarily black areas.
The report further showed that despite more blacks being frisked, the searches turned up less evidence and results than those of whites under the same circumstance. In 2010, a group of civil rights lawyers sued the police department under the accusation that police officers had been stopping black and Latino people during their random searches that lacked reasonable suspicion, and that they had a pattern and practice of doing so.
As part of the federal consent decree, the department will continue to be routinely monitored and is due back in court this upcoming September.
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