Philly: Stop and Frisk? OK!
Here’s the initial breakdown of results:
• 61 percent of Philadelphians, in total, support stop-and-frisk.
• 29 percent disapprove.
• Only 43 percent of those polled believe police use “good judgment” when enacting the policy.
• 70 percent have a whole ‘lotta respect for Philadelphia police.
Opinions of those polled varied by race, of course, as well as age. The margin of error was 2.5 percentage points and the month-long poll was a random sample of 1,604 residents – 1,202 landlines and 402 cell phones. Of those polled ages 18-34 (and most likely to be victims of stop and frisk) only 37 percent say police intentions are good. Blacks were much less likely to support the policy and believe the police department’s intentions in regarding the policy are good, than whites.
So basically, the problem is not with the policy, and not with the group that oversees the policy, but the individuals enacting the policy? Yeah, weird.
In spite of the poll’s Utopian vision for the city’s anti-privacy policies, stop-and-frisk has a short history of controversy in Philadelphia and elsewhere. An ACLU lawsuit was filed in November, which argued police were stopping pedestrians based on race and they were being questioned with little or no jurisdiction. They found that 72 percent of those stopped in 2009 were black and only 8 percent of stops had actually led to an arrest.
One of those involved in the lawsuit: State Representative and Democratic sheriff candidate Jewell Williams, who claims he was trying to help two elderly victims of stop-and-frisk back in March 2009. Williams was then handcuffed himself and placed in the back of a squad car. Columbia University professor and hip hop scholar Marc Lamont Hill, too, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department for what he calls an illegal search of his car and person in June 2010. Pew polls are often specifically not about policy but about research, pure and simple. It’s unknown if respondents were given definitions of stop-and-frisk in the calls to their land lines/cells, since there seems to be a relatively small population of “don’t know” answers here. (”Don’t know” respondents on the stop-and-frisk policy was only 10 percent; by contrast, 26 percent of Pennsylvanians either “don’t know” or are “unsure” about their approval of Senator Bob Casey, who has been in office almost five years.)
Nevertheless, that 61 percent approval rating is a number. And numbers are numbers.