Ramsey Warns Officers Not To Make Stops Based On Anonymous Information

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told his officers last week that anonymous “flash information” they are sent “does not provide the reasonable suspicion necessary to make a lawful stop,” the Philadelphia Daily News reports. “Officers must develop reasonable suspicion, separate from the anonymous flash information, to make a lawful stop. This has been the law for some time and nothing has changed,”he said. Dispatchers will tell officers who are responding to calls about possible suspects whether the information is non-verified – meaning it came from an anonymous source – or verified, meaning that it came from someone who has identified himself or herself to a dispatcher.

If it’s the latter, the cops would be free to make a stop. They could also take action if the information came from another law enforcement officer, or if it was tied to a serious crime, like murder, sexual assault, robbery or arson. “It’s all part of keeping officers informed in terms of what constitutes reasonable suspicion,” Ramsey said. “We just want to make sure people are doing things the correct way.” The move is related to the consent decree the city entered into with the American Civil Liberties Union and a law firm in 2011 after a federal class action lawsuit that accused the police department of subjecting black and Latino men to unconstitutional stop-and-frisk searches. Mayor-elect Jim Kenney has promised to crack down further on problematic stops-and-frisks. fraternal Order of Police vice president John McGrody said the message puts more doubt in the minds of cops who are responding in real time to emergency calls.

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