When Narcotics Cops Go Rogue: A Philadelphia Story

Five years after a police scandal rocked the city, narcotics squads continue to operate like criminal gangs with impunity. By its nature, the War on Drugs fuels corruption.

A surveillance shot of the “Tainted Justice” cops robbing a bodega.

A surveillance shot of the “Tainted Justice” cops robbing a bodega.

By Jeff Deeney

For years in North Philly, the heart of Philadelphia’s heroin and crack trade, narcotics squads have exercised incredible powers among the poor blacks and Latinos they patrol. They have kicked in doors and manhandled people. They have put their hands on anyone they suspected of trafficking drugs. They have stepped on necks, literally. The fact that citizen complaints generally go nowhere has sent a clear message to the officers tasked with controlling the city’s drug trade: You can do whatever you want to whoever you want as long as they’re poor.

In 2008, when the war on drugs in the city was arguably at its most out of control, one narcotics squad did just that. They moved into new territory that not even other dirty cops considered fair game. They didn’t just push the limits of civil rights. They went totally rogue. When the local press broke the scandal, outrage was voiced, and cries for reform. Last month, after plodding forward for five years, a high-profile federal investigation into police corruption by a Philadelphia narcotics squad was dropped.

Read the rest at Substance.com, When Narcotics Cops Go Rogue: A Philadelphia Story

About Kenneth Lipp

Kenneth is a writer and researcher. He’s from Alabama, and will not apologize for it. He moved to Pennsylvania in 2012, but has been in love with Philadelphia since a late-night stroll down Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum in July of 2011 with the love of his life. He is interested in telling Philadelphia’s dynamic and absolutely unique stories with the zeal of a constantly enamored newcomer. Kenneth is also passionate about government transparency and protection of whistleblowers, most notably PFC Chelsea Manning. His research and reporting on law enforcement and surveillance have been featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone (Meet the Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters) and Popular Science (Boston Tested Crowd-Watching Software That Catalogues People's Skin Color). His training is in both genetics and history and he likes the joke about being a helicase and unzipping your “genes.” He’s driven to know, and thinks you can handle, the truth. Follow him on Twitter @kennethlipp.

There is one comment

  1. aisha syms

    Same thing happened to my son cop arrested him found no drugs money on him made up a story and put 13 bags of some drug and now he’s doing 2 years in jail.he has never really been in trouble.he was a college student.he has a 10 month baby he has never held or seen in person.he took his case to trial and lost.cop had no proof only his word and the jug still found my child guilty I will never support the justice system or cops in Philadelphia again ..clearly sent a innocent young black man to jail..so furious right now


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