Episode 4: Political will
Stop and frisk is a divisive topic in Philly, with political implications. Gun violence and public safety are bound to be central campaign topics in the 2023 mayoral race.
This episode is from Stop and Frisk, a podcast production from WHYY News and Temple University’s Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting.
Find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
SARAH GLOVER: HELLO. I’M SARAH GLOVER, WHYY’S VICE PRESIDENT OF NEWS AND CIVIC DIALOGUE. WHYY NEWS IS COMMITTED TO REPORTING ON SOLUTIONS TO PHILADELPHIA’S GUN VIOLENCE CRISIS. THIS PODCAST DIGS INTO THE CONVERSATION ABOUT STOP AND FRISK, GUN VIOLENCE, AND PUBLIC SAFETY IN THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE. JOIN US AS WE TAKE AN IN DEPTH LOOK AT HOW WE GOT HERE. THIS IS A CONVERSATION PHILLY NEEDS TO HAVE.
SAMMY CAIOLA: HEADS UP, THIS EPISODE CONTAINS PROFANITY, DESCRIPTIONS OF POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER.
Nutter: I was stopped by police when I was teenager, I was stopped by police when I was a member of City Council, I was stopped by police two years ago, a block and a half from my house.
YVONNE: IT’S 6 P.M. IN WEST PHILLY AND FORMER PHILADELPHIA MAYOR, MICHAEL NUTTER WHO IS IN HIS SIXTIES IS DRIVING HIS MINI COOPER. SUDDENLY POLICE LIGHTS FLASH BEHIND HIM, AND HE PULLS OVER.
Nutter: Officer said, I did something. I didn’t think I did it. There’s two officers. One comes up on the driver’s side, the other one on the passenger side. Yeah. Driver’s license, registration. Okay. The officer on the passenger side has his flashlight out and his hand on his weapon. And so, you know, I mean, I’ve seen this movie before.
YVONNE: WHEN A BLACK PERSON GETS PULLED OVER BY POLICE, YOU CAN ONLY HOPE AND PRAY THEY DON’T ASK YOU TO GET OUT OF THE CAR AND FRISK YOU. LIKE MOST BLACK CHILDREN, I GOT THE TALK TOO, AND WAS TAUGHT TO DO EXACTLY WHAT NUTTER DOES NEXT…
Nutter: I’ve got my hands ten and two on the steering wheel. I say, Officer, my information is in my wallet. It is in my right back pocket. I’m going to get it for you, but I want you to know what I’m doing. And so in the most exaggerated, slow motion fashion, I’ve got to lift my butt up. Two fingers. Get the wallet. Get the information and give it to the officer. All the while, his partner is on the passenger side with his hand on his weapon. And here’s the thing: You know, I was pretty sure I hadn’t actually done anything. Nobody’s looking for me.
YVONNE: FOR MOST BLACK MEN IN PHILLY, GETTING STOPPED BY COPS IS A RECURRING THEME IN THEIR LIVES. NUTTER SAYS HE WAS PUT AGAINST A WALL AND FRISKED AS A TEEN.
FOR HIM, THE POLICE STOPS NEVER ENDED.
Nutter: And I was literally a block and a half from my house where I was a district councilmember for 14 and a half years and has served as mayor for eight. And it was like, you know, just another guy.
YVONNE: HE’S RIGHT, ANY BLACK MAN, WHETHER YOU’RE A FORMER MAYOR OR A FELON, CAN BE STOPPED UNJUSTLY BY POLICE. NUTTER MADE STOP AND FRISK A CENTERPIECE OF HIS CRIME FIGHTING CAMPAIGN WHEN HE RAN THE CITY. AND AS MORE CANDIDATES JUMP INTO THE 2023 MAYOR’S RACE, AND THE GUN VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO SOAR, THE POLITICAL RHETORIC ON HOW TO STOP THE VIOLENCE HAS AMPED UP.
I’M YVONNE LATTY, THE DIRECTOR OF TEMPLE UNIVERSITY’S, LOGAN CENTER FOR URBAN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING.
SAMMY: AND I’M SAMMY CAIOLA, THE GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION REPORTER AT WHYY.
THIS IS STOP AND FRISK: REVISIT OR RESIST, A PODCAST THAT LOOKS AT THE PUSH TO VISIBLY ENFORCE A CONTROVERSIAL POLICING METHOD, BY A CITY WHOSE BACK IS UP AGAINST THE WALL. THIS IS EPISODE 4 – POLITICAL WILL.
Curtis Jones: if somebody is riding erratically down my block swerving, please stop them. Please frisk them, please do what you are supposed to do within the constitution of the law. If somebody carjacked a car and that car is stolen, please stop them. Please frisk them.
SAMMY: THAT’S CITY COUNCIL MEMBER CURTIS JONES GIVING HIS TAKE ON STOP AND FRISK. KEEPING THE CITY AND ITS CITIZENS SAFE IS ALWAYS A MAIN TALKING POINT FOR POLITICIANS.
Jones: So we want this problem solved in a way that is constitutional. But it is solved. We cannot just not do anything.
YVONNE: POLITICIANS ARE SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS. AND THEY ARE DESPERATE.
SAMMY: BEEFING UP STOP AND FRISK BECAME A PART OF THE PUBLIC DEBATE AGAIN WHEN CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT DARRELL CLARKE BROUGHT IT UP OVER THE SUMMER..
Darrell Clarke: The question is gonna have to be, do we go back to some level of constitutional use of stopping and frisking? People must have reasonable cause, Solomon.
SAMMY: AND THAT’S CLARKE TALKING ABOUT IT ON PHILLY’S BLACK COMMUNITY RADIO STATION WURD … WITH HOST SOLOMON JONES, WHO, LIKE SOME MEMBERS OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY, SEES HOW IT CAN WORK.
Solomon Jones: Long as they have reasonable cause. I’m cool with it, if they have reasonable cause. But I don’t want them stoppin’ me, I’m just walking down the street, I’m minding my business.
Clarke: Solomon, I am a dark-skinned brother. You are a dark-skinned brother. That’s the reality. You get looked at a little differently. I’m not tryna get stopped for no reason. But that conversation, Solomon, I only say this because I hear it from people in the streets. Those are the things we’re gonna talk about, Solomon, if we’re gonna get a handle on this. We have to do something now.
SAMMY: CLARKE AND NUTTER HAVE BOTH PUSHED FOR STOP AND FRISK EVEN THOUGH THEY KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE TARGETED.
WHEN NUTTER WAS MAYOR, HE WANTED POLICE TO FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE MOST LIKELY TO CARRY OUT SHOOTINGS. AND THE TRUTH IS, THE MAJORITY OF THE DEADLY SHOOTINGS IN THE CITY OCCUR IN BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS. IN 2021, 75% OF GUN VIOLENCE VICTIMS WERE BLACK MEN, ACCORDING TO CITY DATA.
Nutter: Black men are being killed disproportionately by other Black men, not by the police. I wanted people to stop carrying these weapons. It’s really hard to shoot somebody if you don’t have a gun.
YVONNE: WHEN NUTTER CAMPAIGNED FOR MAYOR, HE TOUTED STOP AND FRISK AS A SOLUTION. IT WAS 2007 AND HOMICIDE NUMBERS WERE UP. THERE WERE 391 THAT YEAR ACCORDING TO POLICE DATA.
Nutter: I did talk about it a great deal during the campaign, the year that I was running and a couple of years prior. The murder rate murder numbers were going up in Philadelphia and in many other cities across the country. And so I thought we had a crime problem. And as mayor, if I were to be elected, I thought that I should try to do something about it.
YVONNE: BUT STOP AND FRISK IS COMPLICATED AND SOME BELIEVE MORE OFTEN THAN NOT ROOTED IN RACIAL PROFILING, WHICH IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. NUTTER SAYS IT WAS JUST ONE PART OF HIS POLICING PLAN
Nutter: It is not the only thing that we talked about, that I talked about, but it certainly grabbed a lot of attention. So it’s an outsized amount of attention as one tool in a very complicated set of strategies and plans that law enforcement, whether in Philly or in places all across the country, utilize. This is just the one that grabs a lot of attention for, you know, I certainly know for obvious reasons
YVONNE: NUTTER WAS MAYOR FROM 2008-2016. UNDER HIS TENURE, HOMICIDES AVERAGED 294 PER YEAR
BETWEEN 2017 AND 2021, WITH MAYOR JIM KENNEY AT THE HELM, HOMICIDES AVERAGED 417 PER YEAR ACCORDING TO A WHYY ANALYSIS OF POLICE DATA – AND THAT DOESN’T INCLUDE THE MORE THAN 440 DEATHS SINCE JANUARY OF THIS YEAR.
THAT’S A 30% JUMP FROM THE AVERAGE DURING NUTTER’S ERA.
SAMMY: STOPS AND FRISKS WERE MORE FREQUENT DURING THE NUTTER ADMINISTRATION THAN THEY ARE NOW. BUT THE POLICE DEPARTMENT WASN’T TRACKING THEM AT THE BEGINNING OF NUTTER’S TERM. THEY STARTED LOGGING ALL STOPS IN AN ELECTRONIC DATABASE AFTER 2014.
THAT WAS A CONDITION OF THE 2011 BAILEY AGREEMENT, WHICH MONITORS THIS METHOD OF POLICING OFTEN CRITICIZED FOR TARGETING BLACK MEN.
BY THE END OF NUTTER’S TERM, THE USE OF STOP AND FRISK WAS HUMMING ALONG. THE DATABASE SHOWS THAT IN 2016 POLICE CONDUCTED ABOUT 411,000 STOPS – AN AVERAGE OF 34,200 PER MONTH, OR ROUGHLY ELEVEN HUNDRED A DAY. AND HOMICIDES WERE DOWN ABOUT 16% FROM WHEN NUTTER TOOK OFFICE IN 2008.
Nutter: I think it was an overall program that helped to bring the numbers down. And I mean, I can’t sit here and be proud, even with those low numbers. I mean, it’s still a lot of people.
YVONNE: HIS OVERALL PROGRAM HAD A LOT OF COMPONENTS AND WAS PUT INTO FORCE BY COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMESY, WHO CAME TO PHILADELPHIA AFTER SERVING IN CHICAGO AND D.C.
Nutter: He restructured parts of the police department. He redeployed officers after an analysis. In our first month, we found that 65% of the homicides in the city were coming out of nine of the then 23 police districts. And so we redeployed and rebalanced where the officers were, where they were working to go into those areas that had the higher crime rates, while at the same time not making people in other districts less safe.
YVONNE: HE ALSO BEEFED UP BEAT COPS.
Nutter: More officers on foot patrol. More officers on bicycles. And so, you know, out of video surveillance cameras, text tip hotlines, over time, the monitoring of social media.
SAMMY: BUT WITH ALL THIS IN PLAY, THE QUESTION IS – CAN THE DROP IN HOMICIDES REALLY BE TRACED TO STOP AND FRISK AT ALL?
DURING NUTTER’S TENURE, LEGAL EXPERTS TRACKING THE PRACTICE FOUND THAT ONLY 1% OF FRISKS RESULTED IN A GUN BEING CONFISCATED, AND STOP AND FRISK WAS FACING CHALLENGES IN COURT DUE TO ITS RACIALLY BIASED IMPLEMENTATION.
YVONNE: AT THE SAME TIME, HOMICIDES WERE DROPPING IN MOST BIG CITIES BY AS MUCH AS 50 PERCENT ACCORDING TO NEW YORK UNIVERSITY’S BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE – REGARDLESS OF HOW THEY WERE USING STOP AND FRISK. EXPERTS EXPLAIN THAT DROP BY CITING EVERYTHING FROM MORE POLICE, LOW UNEMPLOYMENT, TO THE EXPLOSION OF VIDEO GAMES KEEPING TEENS INDOORS, TO PLASTIC REPLACING CASH.
BUT NUTTER STANDS BY STOP AND FRISK.
Nutter: Done legally, it is an effective, can be an effective tool. I didn’t want the police department to spend all day stopping, questioning, and frisking people. What I wanted was some of the shooters and killers out there to rethink whether they wanted to carry their gun that day. You’ve got to do a lot of different things to try to bring the numbers down, stop the shooting, stop the killing. But a part of it is changing the culture, changing the mindset.
SAMMY: WHEN MAYOR JIM KENNEY RAN FOR OFFICE IN 2015, HE VOWED TO END STOP AND FRISK. THIS IS HIM AT A 2016 MEETING IN A NORTH PHILLY CHURCH
Jim Kenney: And that is ending. We are putting in place policies and procedures, directives and discipline, and reporting requirements that are unprecedented in the country.
SAMMY: IN 2017, THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MADE ROUGHLY 387,000 STOPS – ACCORDING TO THEIR DATA – AVERAGING MORE THAN 32,000 STOPS A MONTH – IT’S NOT MUCH LESS THAN THE END OF NUTTER’S TERM.
DATA FROM THE ACLU SHOWS THAT STOP AND FRISKS DURING THAT TIME WERE STILL DISPROPORTIONATELY CONDUCTED ON BLACK PHILADELPHIANS.
AT THE 2016 MEETING AT THE CHURCH, NORTH PHILLY RESIDENTS BERATED KENNEY FOR ALLOWING POLICE TO CONTINUE THE RACIAL PROFILING.
THIS IS REVEREND GREGORY HOLSTON.
Reverend Gregory Holston: You can go down to the University of Pennsylvania on a Friday night and stop and frisk every student at that dormitory and you will find more problems, more crime.
YVONNE: THERE WAS A DIP IN STOPS AND FRISKS DURING KENNEY’S FIRST TERM. HOMICIDES ROSE DURING THAT TIME, ABOUT A 26% JUMP BETWEEN 2015 AND 2018.
CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY DAVID RUDOVSKY SAYS THE MAJOR SPIKE THAT’S HAPPENING NOW CAN BE LINKED TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
David Rudovsky: In the first couple of years of the Kenney administration, when the stops were reduced pretty significantly. Crime didn’t start to rise again until COVID hit. Right? So you had two or three years where even with reduced stops, violent crime didn’t rise. It was kind of still a pretty low plateau.
YVONNE: HE’S BASICALLY ARGUING THAT STOP AND FRISK WASN’T KEEPING CRIME DOWN.
IN JUNE 2020, RIGHT AFTER THE FIRST COVID-19 LOCKDOWN, WHEN THE CITY FELT LIKE A GHOST TOWN, POLICE MADE JUST 1100 STOPS CITYWIDE. THAT’S COMPARED TO ONE THOUSAND STOPS A DAY JUST A FEW YEARS EARLIER.
BUT COVID-19 UNLEASHED MORE THAN A VIRUS INTO THE CITY. ACCORDING TO THE BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE, MOST MAJOR CITIES SAW A SPIKE IN HOMICIDES THAT BEGAN IN 2019 AND CONTINUED DURING STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS. THE COUNCIL ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE FOUND THAT CARJACKINGS SPIKED. DRUG USE AND OVERDOSES ALSO WENT UP ACCORDING TO NATIONAL HEALTH GROUPS.
Lenore Anderson: Everyone is rightfully concerned about increases in, in homicide and gun violence. You know, since COVID, it has certainly been a problem in cities across the country.
SAMMY: LENORE ANDERSON IS A CRIMINAL JUSTICE SCHOLAR WHO SERVED AS PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR IN OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, AND POLICY CHIEF FOR ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS IN SAN FRANCISCO.
SHE NOW RUNS THE ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE, WHICH OPPOSES MASS INCARCERATION.
Lenore: The challenge with the stop and frisk approach, above and beyond the obvious racial disparities that have been demonstrated. t’s also just totally ineffective from a public safety strategy perspective.
Most of the research on some of the mass surveillance tactics and tough sentencing tactics of the eighties and nineties have demonstrated that there’s no real correlation between those approaches and sustained reductions in crime and violence.
SAMMY: SHE SAYS THE KEY TO REDUCING VIOLENCE IS COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS, NOT COMMUNITY SURVEILLANCE.
Lenore: On the ground, it looks like things like neighborhood based trauma recovery centers where victims can get help, a crisis assistance help immediately in the aftermath of crime. And then also long term help for things like mental health support to grapple with life post injury.
It also looks like things like reentry programs. People coming out of incarceration are very vulnerable to falling back into the cycle of crime. Stable jobs, housing, an opportunity to reintegrate, those are things that make a huge, huge difference.
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YVONNE: PHILADELPHIA’S HOMICIDES AND SHOOTING NUMBERS KEEP GROWING, AND SOME RESIDENTS SAY NEW PROGRAMS, GRANTS OR POLICING IDEAS ARE NOT MAKING A DENT.
CLARKE IS STILL ON THE HUNT TO FIND A SOLUTION. AFTER BACKLASH FROM RESIDENTS AND OTHER POLITICIANS, HE BACKED AWAY FROM TOUTING STOP AND FRISK.
MEANWHILE IN THE LEAD-UP TO NEXT YEAR’S MAYORAL ELECTION, A LOT OF CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS AND OTHER POLITICIANS ARE JOCKEYING TO PROVE THAT THEY CAN DO BETTER THAN MAYOR JIM KENNEY.
KENNEY HAS BEEN SURPRISINGLY STRAIGHTFORWARD ABOUT HOW EXHAUSTED HE IS BY THE ONGOING VIOLENCE CRISIS.
Jim Kenney: There is not an event, or a day, where I don’t lay on my back and look at the ceiling and wonder and worry about stuff. So everything we have in the city, over the last seven
years, I worry about. I don’t enjoy Fourth of July. I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t enjoy the NFL draft. I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not mayor, and I can enjoy some stuff.
YVONNE: AND THIS UNLEASHED THE WRATH OF SOME CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS.:
Cherelle Parker: I do want to state for the record that I think the mayor’s comments were asinine.
SAMMY: THAT’S FORMER CITY COUNCIL MEMBER AND NOW MAYORAL CANDIDATE CHERELLE PARKER AT A JULY CITY COUNCIL MEETING BEFORE SHE ANNOUNCED HER CANDIDACY.
Parker: I didn’t tweet about it, post it. I picked up the telephone and I called him. And I told him that if you can feel this way, imagine how Philadelphians who don’t have the ability to check out feel on a daily basis.
None of our stress is heavier than the people who are altering their lives on a daily basis. Every block, every community, every neighborhood. And they don’t want us to simply say we throwing up our hands. We can’t do anything. We don’t have the luxury to do that.
SAMMY: IT WAS AFTER THIS SHOOTING THAT CITY COUNCIL RESIGNATIONS CAME IN A FLURRY AND MULTIPLE COUNCIL MEMBERS ANNOUNCED THEY WERE RUNNING FOR MAYOR. DEREK GREEN–
Derek Green: I wanna thank all of you for being here as I announce my campaign for mayor of the city of Philadelphia.
SAMMY: CHERELLE PARKER–
Cherelle Parker: We are ready to take our message to neighborhoods across the city of Philadelphia.
SAMMY: MARIA QUIÑONES-SÁNCHEZ–
Maria Quiñones-Sánchez: I am very centered, very healthy, and very prepared for this.
SAMMY: ALAN DOMB–
Alan Domb: Hearing from people in the suburbs telling me, ‘I don’t feel safe coming into the city,” that’s a problem.
SAMMY: AND HELEN GYM.
Helen Gym: It’s time to elect a proven fighter to protect the city we call home. And that’s why I’m announcing my run for Mayor of Philadelphia.
SAMMY: THEY ARE ALL CAMPAIGNING FOR THE JOB.
PHILADELPHIA CITY CONTROLLER REBECCA RHYNHART HAS ALSO RESIGNED AND ANNOUNCED HER RUN.
Rebecca Rhynhart: I chose to make the announcement from here, this spot, at Race and Conestoga, at Nichols Park, because where we are standing is one of the areas most impacted by the city’s gun violence.
SAMMY: THERE COULD BE MORE CANDIDATES IN THE MIX BEFORE NEXT YEAR’S ELECTION.
AND ONE THING YOU CAN COUNT ON IS THE GUN VIOLENCE CRISIS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT WILL BE A BIG PART OF THE MAYORAL CAMPAIGN SEASON. SO FAR NO CANDIDATE HAS EMBRACED STOP AND FRISK AS A VIABLE SOLUTION, EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY ARE TALKING ABOUT IT.
Quiñones-Sánchez: I think there are smarter community policing tactics than just stopping folks.
SAMMY: THAT’S MARIA QUIÑONES-SÁNCHEZ. SHE WAS A MEMBER OF CITY COUNCIL FOR 14 YEARS UNTIL SHE RESIGNED IN SEPTEMBER.
Quiñones-Sánchez: You know, as a mother of two brown boys and the grandmother of three, we sacrificed the bad interaction with too many young people in order to supposedly solve and prevent crimes. And I’m not willing to go down that road again.
SAMMY: SHE REPRESENTED THE 7TH DISTRICT WHICH ENCOMPASSES KENSINGTON AND ALLEGHENY, ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS STRETCHES FOR GUN VIOLENCE .
IT’S A MAGNET FOR ADDICTS, DEALERS AND THE VIOLENCE THAT FOLLOWS. QUIÑONES BELIEVES ONE ANSWER TO GUN VIOLENCE LIES IN SO-CALLED SMART POLICING. HERE’S HOW SHE DESCRIBES IT:
Quiñones-Sánchez: Smart policing means that 90% of the crimes are committed by less than 10% of the criminals. Smart policing means that we are providing the kinds of interventions to the folks so that they don’t graduate in their criminal behavior. Smart policing means that we solve crimes because we use forensics and technology. Smart policing means we have a robust camera program throughout the city. That starts sending a message that between our safer lighting, the removal of blight, and cameras, if you do something in the city, we’re going to catch you, and we’re going to prosecute you.
SAMMY: CHERELLE PARKER TAKES A BROADER VIEW.
Parker: So I don’t want to sound like a philosopher here, so let me paraphrase Aristotle. Aristotle said the poverty is the parent of of of crime and violence. Right. And I firmly believe that that poverty is the parent of all of this. As mayor, it will be my responsibility to lead from the mayor’s office and make the public safety of our city our number one priority.
SAMMY: PARKER, WAS THE CITY COUNCIL MAJORITY LEADER REPRESENTING THE 9TH DISTRICT WHICH ENCOMPASSES THE NORTHWEST AND PARTS OF NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA. SHE HAS A THREE PRONGED PLAN AND WANTS TO AVOID ANY MORE STUDIES THAT LOOK AT VIOLENCE AND SOLUTIONS.
PARKER: There’s prevention, there is intervention, and then there is accountability. And in the midst of all of that, the one thing I can tell you that Philadelphians don’t want, and That is another study about what they are witnessing at a crisis level on a daily basis.
In fact, if I become the mayor of the city, you can rest assured that community policing will be an essential part of the public safety, the Parker Public Safety Plan for Philadelphia.
YVONNE: SO, COMMUNITY POLICING: IT MEANS COPS WALKING THE BEAT, KNOWING THE COMMUNITY, KNOWING THE PEOPLE, CHIT CHATTING WITH NEIGHBORS AND STORE OWNERS. IT’S LIKE THE POLICE FEELING LIKE YOUR NEIGHBOR.
THERE HASN’T BEEN DEFINITIVE RESEARCH ON THE IMPACT OF COMMUNITY POLICING ON GUN VIOLENCE. SOME STUDIES HAVE FOUND THAT IT INCREASES POSITIVE PERCEPTION OF POLICE, BUT NONE HAVE SHOWN THAT THIS CAUSED A DROP IN CRIME OR AN INCREASE IN CLEARANCE RATES.
AND THIS IS WHAT THE POLITICIANS WANT TO TALK ABOUT, AT LEAST FOR NOW, INSTEAD OF STOP AND FRISK. BUT HOW DO YOU FIND ENOUGH COPS TO WALK A BEAT WHEN YOU’RE SHORT ROUGHLY 1300 COPS, ANOTHER PHILLY RECORD BY THE WAY.
YVONNE: DEREK GREEN, ANOTHER MAYORAL CANDIDATE, FORMER ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND AN AT-LARGE COUNCILMAN FOR SIX YEARS, SAYS HE’S BEEN RACIALLY PROFILED HIMSELF.
Derek Green: And as an African-American man of a certain height, I understand some of the issues and concerns both our neighbors have, that some of the people that live right here in Carroll Park, as well as all around our city.
YVONNE: HE WANTS TO ADD INCENTIVES TO BOLSTER THE RANKS OF THE THINNING POLICE DEPARTMENT,
Green: We can reduce gun violence without violating the rights of our citizens. I am a former assistant district attorney, and I was actually once profiled while leaving the DA’s office. So when people are talking about increased services, it’s not public safety or criminal justice reform. It’s both. People want to see all of that in our city and as mayor, and that’s what I will bring.
YVONNE: RYNHART RECENTLY RELEASED A DAMNING REVIEW OF POLICE SPENDING.
THE REVIEW FOUND POLICE RESPONSE TIMES IN WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS WERE TWICE AS FAST AS COMMUNITIES OF COLORS, IT SAYS THERE ARE 570 OFFICERS OFF THE STREET WITH INJURIES AND IT’S BEEN REPORTED THAT SOME ARE FAKING. THESE ARE JUST SOME OF THE RED FLAG ISSUES.
Rebecca Rhynhart: What needs to happen is every position needs to be looked at. In a lot of neighborhoods throughout our city police are not making residents feel safe.
SAMMY: BUT PHILADELPHIANS ARE FED UP WITH ALL THE TALK AND WANT REAL SOLUTIONS.
A COALITION OF GUN VIOLENCE ACTIVISTS, COACHES, NONPROFIT DIRECTORS, TEACHERS AND MOURNING MOTHERS MARCH ON NORTH BROAD STREET, HOLDING THE HANDS OF CHILDREN. THE GOAL IS TO BRING ATTENTION TO THE MORE THAN 440 PEOPLE DEAD AND OVER 1500 PEOPLE SHOT. THEY CALL IT “THE MILLION KID MARCH.” AS MUSIC BLARES OVER SPEAKERS, SEVERAL DOZENS PROTESTORS AMPLIFY THEIR FRUSTRATIONS.
Rahnda Rize: Our children are our future, you know, and literally they are dying. You know, we have a generation that’s becoming extinct. We have, we have a whole generation of young Black men who are being wiped out. It’s, it’s devastating, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s just, people are tired, people are tired. I’m just tired of seeing, yes, this impacts everyone, but when I turn on my TV, what I’m seeing are people who look like me. I’m seeing Black and Brown people on my TV screen every day who have either been shot and killed or families who’ve been impacted by it.
SAMMY: RHANDA RIZE IS WALKING WITH SEVERAL MEMBERS OF HER FAMILY. THEY ARE A FAMILY IN MOURNING, AND THEY STOP TO CONSOLE EACH OTHER.
Rahnda: Just two weeks ago, our little cousin, 19 years old, was shot 27 times. Why would someone shoot someone 27 times? And where did they get the guns from?
RIZE IS THERE FOR HER COUSIN’S MOM, AND ALL THE OTHER PHILLY MOMS WHO’VE HAD TO BURY A CHILD
Rahnda: I don’t have all the answers. I just know that the mayor needs to do something. The city officials need to do something.
SAMMY: TOWANDA SPAULDING WALKS WITH FIVE CHILDREN. SHE’S HERDING THEM TOGETHER, PULLING THEM IN WITH WIDE ARMS.
THEY’RE NOT HERS, BUT SHE’S THEIR GUARDIAN FOR THE DAY. THEY RANGE FROM TODDLER TO TWELVE. SOME ARE SIBLINGS. TWO ARE IN MATCHING OUTFITS: PINK HOODIES AND NAVY LEGGINGS WITH A STAR-SPANGLED PATTERN.
SPAULDING IS FRUSTRATED WITH POLITICAL TALK AROUND GUN VIOLENCE.
Towanda Spaulding: Each, each homicide that takes place, you know, they, they have a speech. But for us, we need change. We need action. And that’s not what we’re getting.
SAMMY: AND THE CHILDREN SHE HELD SPOKE SOME HARD TRUTHS.
MYLIE IS 7 YEARS OLD.
Mylie: In my area of Philadelphia, it’s a lot of violence. And we want to be able to play outside. Yes. My mother won’t let me play outside that much. Right. Yeah, right.
Sammy: That’s very unfair. I’m sorry.
SAMMY: AND HERE’S KIMANI. SHE’S 10.
Kimani: We need to stop people from using guns and all this kind of stuff because it’s hurting people’s families.
I think gun violence is basically taking a city apart, basically. I think we should fix it because it’s, is going to get worser if we don’t fix it.
YVONNE: NUTTER SAYS IT WAS THE SHOOTING DEATH OF A TODDLER THAT MADE HIM NOT FLINCH IN HIS SUPPORT OF STOP AND FRISK AND STANDING BY TOUGH POLICING, EVEN IF IT MEANS HE IS STOPPED BY POLICE… AND EVEN IF IT MEANS SOME PEOPLE DON’T LIKE HIS LEADERSHIP.
Nutter: I have a picture of a three year old girl. In my wallet. Tynirah Borum. Sitting on the steps of a neighbor down the street having her hair braided. Two nitwits are engaged in gunplay a half a block away. Bullet hits her dead in the chest. And she was killed.
Unannounced, I went to her house. Knocked on the door, didn’t tell anybody we were coming, and it was not about that at all. Her mother was surprised that the mayor was knocking on the door. She let me in. Just the two of us. And we sat and chatted.
I came there to apologize to her that in this big ass city that somehow, some way we couldn’t protect her daughter, minding her business, getting her hair braided on a neighbor’s step, from the idiocy going on in the city. She gave me Tynirah’s photo. I put it in my wallet that day and it has been there ever since as a reminder of what your job is. So you just you can’t get all totally caught up in the noise and the chatter out there. You can’t have a great city if people don’t feel safe.
SAMMY: IN THE NEXT, AND FINAL, EPISODE, WE’LL HOST A CONVERSATION WITH COMMUNITY LEADERS, A YOUNG PERSON, A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL AND A CITY PUBLIC SAFETY STAFFER TO DIVE DEEPER INTO WHAT THEY SEE AS SOLUTIONS TO THE GUN VIOLENCE CRISIS
Adam Geer: There is a gun violence initiative, what they’re calling Operation Pinpoint, which is like a focused deterrence model, style of policing, where they’re supposed to be identifying the people who they believe are most, most at risk to be murdered or shot. And also, those are the people who are, you know, might be in the situation where they are also going to be. Causing violent crime or something like that. They want to target those individuals and give them options. They want to give them options for employment, for whatever to get out of that situation.
SAMMY: PHILLY STOP AND FRISK: REVISIT OR RESIST IS A PRODUCTION OF WHYY AND TEMPLE UNIVERSITY’S LOGAN CENTER FOR URBAN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING. I AM SAMMY CAIOLA, COHOST, PRODUCER AND WHYY’S GUN PREVENTION REPORTER.
YVONNE: AND I AM COHOST AND PRODUCER YVONNE LATTY, THE DIRECTOR OF TEMPLE’S LOGAN CENTER. OUR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER IS SARAH GLOVER, WHYY’S VP OF NEWS AND CIVIC DIALOGUE.
OUR EDITOR IS JORDAN GASS-POORE. MUSIC BY EMIR MATOUK.
SAMMY: OUR ENGINEER IS AL BANKS. PRODUCTION ASSISTANT IS EDEN MACDOUGALL. SPECIAL THANKS TO THE JONATHAN LOGAN FAMILY FOUNDATION.
YVONNE: PLEASE RATE AND REVIEW WHEREVER YOU ARE LISTENING. HIT US UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. CHECK OUT OUR GUN VIOLENCE STORIES AND SOLUTIONS ON WHYY.ORG AND TEMPLELOGANCENTER.ORG. PLEASE JOIN US IN THIS CONVERSATION, AND THANKS FOR LISTENING.collapse
Stop and frisk is a divisive political issue in Philadelphia, and residents expect it will continue to be part of discussions leading up to the 2023 mayoral election.
In Episode 4 of “Stop and Frisk: Revisit or Resist,” a podcast produced by WHYY and Temple University’s Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting, reporters Yvonne Latty and Sammy Caiola look at where current and former politicians stand on the practice, as well as what community members want to see from people in power.
When Michael A. Nutter campaigned for mayor in 2007, he touted stop and frisk as a solution. He still thinks it could be part of a gun violence prevention strategy, as he told WHYY for the podcast.
“I didn’t want the police department to spend all day stopping, questioning, and frisking people,” Nutter said of his time in office. “What I wanted was some of the shooters and killers out there to rethink whether they wanted to carry their gun that day … You’ve got to do a lot of different things to try to bring the numbers down, stop the shooting, stop the killing. But a part of it is changing the mindset, changing the culture.”
Behind stop and frisk: The history, the controversy, the findings
Philly City Council members reignited the debate on stop and frisk as a solution to the city’s gun violence crisis, raising questions about what makes residents feel safe.
7 months ago
Some neighborhood residents think stop and frisk could work, if implemented the right way.
“You can have a stop and frisk law if you had the right people in place,” said gun violence activist James Lambert, 71. “That law would be carried out as it should be. But because of the indifference of people who have hate in their heart, it could be violated.”
Others feel it’s a flawed and racially biased policy that will inevitably cause harm to Black communities. The practice has historically targeted Black and brown residents and rarely surfaced illegal weapons, according to legal experts who’ve studied stop and frisk in Philadelphia.
“People saying that we may have to go back to it, it doesn’t make any sense,” said Kendra Van de Water, executive director of gun violence prevention group YEAH Philly. “Saying to bring back something that has been deemed unconstitutional for a long time, does not work, does not prevent crime, and you have higher stops with Black people.”
This episode explores stop and frisk and other strategies that policymakers are offering as solutions to the gun violence crisis.
Stop and Frisk: Revisit or Resist
Explore diverse perspectives and solutions to Philly’s gun violence crisis. Could beefing up this controversial police tactic help keep the city safe?
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Part of the series
As Philly mayoral candidates debate public safety strategies, activists are raising the alarm on stop and frisk
The ACLU of Pennsylvania has a new policy paper about the history of the practice.
3 months ago
South Philly group discusses renaming ‘stop and frisk,’ adding community-oriented policing
In one South Philly neighborhood, community leaders and law enforcement are discussing creating a procedure that supports officers stopping young people and sharing resources.
4 months ago
Philly police work to staff up despite distrust, ongoing gun violence crisis
The PPD is low on officers, and recruitment heads say they are trying new tactics like offering physical fitness classes and lowering the sign-up age to 20 years old.
6 months ago