PHILADELPHIA — A court-appointed monitor will oversee the use of “stop and frisk” searches by city police, a high-profile part of the mayor’s efforts to combat violent crime, according to a settlement agreement announced Tuesday.
Authorities also will take additional steps to make sure the stops are only made when there is reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct.
The settlement stems from a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in November alleging that the searches were violating the rights of blacks and Latinos who had done nothing wrong. The ACLU sued on behalf of eight men – including a state lawmaker – it says were subjected to illegal searches since the city started using “stop and frisk,” a controversial element of Mayor Michael Nutter’s 2007 mayoral campaign.
As part of the agreement, the city denies wrongdoing and denies claims made by the plaintiffs.
The city agrees to provide the plaintiffs with documentation of stops made during certain periods between 2006 and 2010. By January 1, it will enter reports into an online database, according to the agreement.
The city also agreed to review training on the searches and make sure that “stop and frisk” is only used when an officer has “reasonable suspicion” of criminal wrongdoing.
In the lawsuit, the ACLU cited city data showing that 253,333 pedestrians were stopped in 2009, compared with 102,319 in 2005. More than 70 percent of the people stopped were black and only 8.4 percent of the total stops led to an arrest, the ACLU said.
The use of “stop and frisk” searches has been a focal point of Nutter’s campaign to slow violent crime, which is down since he took office in 2008. Both Nutter and police Commissioner Charles Ramsey are black.