Skip to main content

Does Philly's Stop-and-Frisk Policy Actually Fight Crime?

Elmer Smith at the Daily News gets to the heart of the matter:

"The city keeps records on the number of people who are stopped in what it calls pedestrian investigations. But nobody at the Police Department could tell me how many of those stops included pat-downs or how many, if any, gun or drug confiscations to credit to the practice."

There are a couple of reasons you might not keep records on how much crime a crime-fighting practice actually fights. One is that you don't want to know the results. The other is that you're too lazy to care. Which is why Mayor Nutter's defense of the program seems suspect:

"This is part of a larger crime-fighting strategy. We've put more officers on the street; we have taken away about 4,000 to 5,000 guns every year for the last three years. Homicides and [serious] crimes are down."

But, what, if anything, does stop-and-frisk have to do with that? If the practice is not being monitored, how can we be sure how fair or effective it has been?

Philly is now defending a lawsuit from the ACLU because the practice disparately targets minorities. The city might be in a better position to defend itself if it could demonstrate the practice mitigates crime -- that is, after all, the best defense available for constitutionally suspect practices. But City Hall can't make that demonstration; why should we believe it's worth the cost?

UPDATE: It's stop-and-frisk day! The Daily News editorial is here; the Inky editorial is here.


Popular posts from this blog


I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…