The ACLU alleged that Philadelphia police were illegally stopping and questioning pedestrians based on race with little or no justification. When Mayor Nutter took office in 2008, the number of pedestrian stops began to increase. That year, the city counted 15 percent fewer homicides than in 2007.
In 2009, Philadelphia police stopped 253,333 pedestrians, 72 percent of whom were African American, according to the ACLU suit. The number of homicides declined that year, too.
In 2011, the homicide count began to track higher. As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Philadelphia had 137 homicides for the year. That is nearly a 10 percent increase from the same day last year. If the killing continues at its current rate, the city will record its worst year for homicides since Nutter became mayor.
But is there a connection between the rise in homicides and the ACLU consent decree?
"We see no such relationship," said Mark McDonald, Nutter’s press secretary.
McDonald said the police continue to use stop-and-frisk, although there are anecdotal indications that the frequency has declined.
Bloomberg did credit Nutter for pursuing stop-and-frisk, and vowed not to concede policing in New York to the ACLU.
"Our city is the safest big city in the country, and we are on track to have the lowest number of murders in our city’s history," Bloomberg said.
David Rudovsky, a civil rights lawyer who also represented the plaintiffs in the ACLU case, said the statistics did not back Bloomberg’s contention.
Rudovsky noted that Philadelphia had far more pedestrian stops per capita than New York — 253,333 in 2009 for a city of 1.5 million people, vs. New York with 700,000 stops in a city of more than 8 million.
"If stop-and-frisk was such an instrumental tool in bringing down the homicide rate [in New York], why didn’t we see a huge reduction?" Rudovsky asked.
Philadelphia’s consent decree allows for the plaintiffs’ attorneys to have access to a new electronic database for stop-and-frisk reports.
Rudovsky said that he and the other lawyers had just received data for the first quarter of 2012 and would issue a report in the next few months.
Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.