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.

Listen 30:54
A closeup of Philadelphia City Hall.

Philadelphia City Hall. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

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.

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.”

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

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