Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Anti-Gun Tool


Snowfall is heaviest in regions in the USA in which the average daily temperature in winter is lower than in other regions.

That seems obvious and unnecessary to point out. However, in matters of race- or perhaps crime prevention- we sometimes suspend common sense.

Credit Phillip Jackson of the Philadelphia Tribune, described by Wikipedia as "the oldest continuously published African-American newspaper in the United States," for reporting last January

The American Civil Liberties Union of PA (ACLU) and the city are still in disagreement over the use of stop and frisk tactics by the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD).

The city filed their report on stops done in the city on Monday after the ACLU filed theirs earlier this month showing that rates are still high for people of color getting stopped by police.

The city refuted the ACLU’s numbers after Robert Taylor, the city’s expert in social psychology and quantitative criminology, conducted an analysis that did not match the same numbers given.

The ACLU’s report noted that racial disparities still remain with African-Americans accounting for 69 percent of stops from January to June in a city in which they are 48 percent of the population according to the press release.

“Professor Taylor’s statistical analysis showed that race did not play a factor in whether a stop and frisk was more a less likely to be premised on legally articulable constitutional grounds,” the document read in the seventh report to the court and monitor.

“The parties however are in disagreement on whether the data shows that race plays a factor in the stop rates of Blacks and Hispanics city-wide. Professor Taylor reports that Plaintiffs method for calculating stop rates are inflated.”

“We continue to see the total number of pedestrian stops performed by the PPD drop, resulting in significantly fewer numbers of stops without reasonable suspicion,” said Mike Dunn, deputy communications director. “Further, the city’s expert has concluded that the racial differences seen among stop rates is the result of factors other than race. We are confident that the measures implemented by the PPD are moving the city in the right direction.”

The ACLU, Jackson explained, believes that blacks are being stopped disproportionately and that a large minority of stops is made without "reasonable suspicion"- the legal standard.

The threshhold for determining a neighborhood is sufficiently dangerous to warrant  this police activity may be lower in black, thanin white, neighborhoods, which would suggest not only racial bias but ineffective policing. 

Nonetheless, one cannot justifiably conclude that a greater proportion of blacks than of white being frisked is in and of itself conclusive evidence of racial profiling.  Nor should it be considered prima facie evidence of discrimination or racial bias.

Stop-and-frisk in a search for illegal weapons should take place in neighborhoods, irrespective of ethnicity, which experience a higher rate of violent crime. However, the rate of stops will reflect the higher rate of violent crime in predominantly black neighborhoods than in predominantly white neighborhoods.

It's critical that the Philadelphia Police Department get stop-and-frisk right (unenlightening video from 1/18 in west Philadelphia, below). It must do so in order to pass constitutional muster, and because the safety of city residents demands it. A week ago we learned

Tyree Bates, 14, was killed when two people, possibly including a fellow teenager, opened fire late Monday night in what investigators are calling a likely North Philadelphia neighborhood dispute.

Gunfire rang out just before midnight along North 4th Street near Susquehanna Avenue striking a group of people outside on the sidewalk and some cars parked on the block, Philadelphia police said.

Tyree Bates was shot in the head and died hours later at the hospital. Bullets also struck 11-year-old, 14-year-old and 15-year-old boys and a 24-year-old man, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. All those victims were listed in stable condition with gunshot wounds to various parts of the body.

All the boys live within a block of where the shooting took place.

 "It was probably related to some sort of neighborhood dispute," Philadelphia Police Homicide Capt. Jack Ryan said.

The 24-year-old didn't appear to be the target, Ryan said.

 The two shooters worked with each other as they fired at least 21 shots from opposite sides of the street, according to Ryan.

One of the shooters could be a teenager who is 15 or 16 years old, witnesses and victims told investigators. Police were in contact with the teen’s family in hopes of tracking him down.

Effective gun control laws are needed, a reality that the right and even the left are loathe to admit.  (Give the left a sometimes competing cause- race, immigrant rights, rights of sexual minorities, virtually anything- and the importance of gun safety legislation fades.)  And so individuals and groups who march against the proliferation of firearms should be lauded.

Yet, urban neighborhoods with serious violent crime cannot wait for political officials to buck the gun lobby and prioritize the safety of its citizens. Legal and effective stop-and-frisk programs are essential.








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