Philadelphia City Council committee advances bill asking voters to weigh in on stop and frisk

Deputy Managing Director Vanessa Garrett Harley said they are at least using it less. 

Testifying in support of the bill, she said the number of stops went from nearly 214,000 in 2015 to under 77,000 last year.

“While the city and the police department are certainly not satisfied with these numbers and we certainly recognize that additional work is definitely necessary, the numbers reflect significant progress in eliminating unconstitutional stops and frisks in the City of Philadelphia,” she said. 

Civil rights attorney David Rudovsky agreed there’s been progress — he helped bring it about by suing the city in 2010. 

But he supports the bill because unconstitutional stops — those without reasonable cause — persist and are 50% more likely to be black Philadelphians.

“We can’t let up at this point. We made all these improvements. We don’t have a problem anymore,” Rudovsky said. 

The referendum would not eliminate all stop and frisk, just reaffirm that its unlawful use is prohibited.