Did the Philadelphia police stop and search you without reason or cause? Did they use excessive force when apprehending or detaining you? The stop and frisk attorneys in Philadelphia at The Zeiger Firm understand what you are going through and are here to provide the aggressive representation you deserve.

Philadelphia’s stop and frisk policies are controversial, especially when officers have unfairly targeted African American and Latino individuals. Where does the questionable policy stand now? Here, our criminal defense lawyers discuss the stop and frisk policies in place and how they are shaping today’s debate about the potential resurgence of this law enforcement tactic.

What Exactly Is Stop and Frisk?

Stop and frisk is the name of a controversial police tactic used to search individuals, generally for the presence of weapons or drugs. Typically, an officer would stop and search a person on the street if they suspect the individual is involved in criminal activity. 

While the definition may seem straightforward, the actual practice of stop and frisk is often left open to interpretation. When does law enforcement have the authority to search someone? Can a person be searched for taking too long to answer a question? What about if someone gives an officer a look from across the street?

New York’s stop and frisk policy was famously challenged in court and found unconstitutional because evidence suggested the policy was being used to racially profile individuals. The ACLU of Pennsylvania also filed lawsuits on behalf of Philadelphia residents claiming the stop and frisk tactic was illegally used on African American and Latino men.

Is Stop and Frisk Still in Effect?

Yes. However, a number of lawsuits challenging Philadelphia’s stop and frisk policy paved the way for crucial reforms to the practice. In recent years, stop and frisk activity has been court-supervised. The result has been a significant decrease in the number of people being stopped and frisked by law enforcement officers. One local news outlet reports that more than 300,000 individuals were stopped in the city at the height of the stop and frisk movement in 2015. That number dropped to 13,206 individuals in 2021.

What Is Currently Happening in Philadelphia with Stop and Frisk Policies?

Unfortunately, in recent years, Philadelphia has seen a rise in violent crime rates. In 2021, the Philadelphia Police Department recorded 562 homicides alone. Those numbers are up from the 499 homicides reported in 2020. With more residents fearing for their safety, elected officials are considering bringing back more aggressive stop and frisk policies. Council president Darrell Clarke suggests that there needs to be an in-depth discussion about the use of the tactic and how it can help alleviate violent crime in the city, but that the phrase stop and frisk should be changed to something more socially acceptable.

The phrase stop and frisk is often associated with negativity, especially for individuals of a racial minority. Publications indicate that although African Americans only make up 40 percent of Philadelphia’s population, they account for more than 70 percent of people who are stopped and frisked by law enforcement.

For All Criminal Defense Cases, Call the Zeiger Firm Today

Do you believe police have unfairly targeted you during a stop and frisk search? Contact a Philadelphia stop and frisk attorney at The Zeiger Firm to discuss your situation today. 

Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire, is an experienced and successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. He is a seasoned trial lawyer with significant experience before juries and judges. Brian understands civil rights cases, including Taser, Wrongful Death, Excessive Force, Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, Malicious Prosecution, Monell Claims, Sexual Assault, Prisoner’s Rights, Time Credit, Medical Malpractice, and Medical Indifference.