That’s what former New York police commissioner William Bratton told the Wall Street Journal in a weekend interview about “the real cures for gun violence.” He says one reform for gun violence would be a greater “certainty of punishment” for using guns in a crime.
“People are out on the streets who should be in jail. Jail is appropriate for anyone who uses a gun in the commission of an act of violence. Some cities have a deplorable lack of attention to this issue,” he says, citing Philadelphia.
It’s hard to guarantee punishment, of course, in Philadelphia’s notoriously clogged and inefficient court system. Reforms to the system—and in D.A. Seth Williams’ office—have yet to bear fruit, in terms of bringing down on-the-street violence. The problem, however, doesn’t seem to be a “lack of attention” as much as it is the usual difficulties of an overburdened bureaucracy.
But one of Bratton’s other tools—”stop and frisk” policing—has been tried in Philadelphia, and initially found to be more discriminatory than violence-reducing. Police here agreed to limits on the practice after studies found that African Americans and Latinos were stopped by police a disproportionate amount of the time.
The issue is now in the federal courts, where for the first time a judge last week ruled a part of the program unconstitutional.
“Stop-and-frisk is not something that you can stop. It is an absolutely basic tool of American policing,” Mr. Bratton says. “It would be like asking a doctor to give an examination to you without using his stethoscope.” Critics, he complains, “always leave out the middle term—stop, question and frisk. About 60 to 70 percent of the stops don’t result in a frisk in New York.”
We wonder what Philadelphia Commissioner Charles Ramsey thinks of all this. [Wall Street Journal]