Letter to the Editor

Philadelphia is no model for police policy

The Post’s editorial (“Stop, frisk and think,” Aug. 11) praised Philadelphia as a worthy model for reforming New York City’s policy of stop and frisk. Not everything in Philadelphia should be copied: Law enforcement there is notorious for the aggressive use of civil forfeiture during police stops. Thanks to this little-known legal proceeding, police can seize cash, cars and homes from people who haven’t been convicted of a crime — or even charged with one. Like stop and frisk, Philadelphia’s civil forfeiture proceedings overwhelmingly target working-class Hispanic and African American men. Indeed, the average amount of cash seized by Philadelphia police was $550 — hardly the proceeds of a Pablo Escobar or a Walter White.  

Under Pennsylvania law, law enforcement can keep 100 percent of all proceeds seized under civil forfeiture, creating a perverse incentive to violate civil rights and property rights. Unsurprisingly, Philadelphia law enforcement is raking in more than $6 million a year from civil forfeiture. 

Policing reformers should look elsewhere than Philadelphia.

Nick Sibilla, Arlington

The writer is a fellow at the Institute for Justice. 

 
Read what others are saying