Philly Police Reform Ridealong

Food Pyramid. We mean

Food Pyramid. We mean “use of force continuum.” (One joke, the one joke this post. Gotta keep things light)

By Kenneth Lipp

As we reported last weekend, the Philly Police department has posted a timeline of sorts for putting in place recommendations from a DOJ review. There are just over 90 – some measures were already in place before the recommendations were delivered (or at least before they were made public). Many are scheduled for completion by July 1st, and for many of those the PPD has or should have met basic completion criteria already, according to the dates given.

The basic completion criteria are concrete steps for reform measures that are difficult to quantify as a whole – some recommendations are straightforward, and some might involve programmatic changes which combine new training techniques, equipment, and operational policies.

In more complex and sensitive areas, Chapter 7 Investigations and Chapter 8 Use of Deadly Force Review and Officer Accountability, precedent terms set by the City’s collective bargaining agreement with the police union threaten to weaken or subvert the department’s progress.

It is now June 20th – the last date given on the spreadsheet is December 31st of this year. It is more likely that this is a sunset date for the current administration’s expectation to engage in business before leaving City Hall than it is a realistic date of completion for the recommendations.

While the reform process is beginning to take a shape, we take a look at the PPD’s plan, with special attention to “contractual conflicts” and “Pending” target dates.

The post will be updated as target dates come due and as we receive more information about confirmed implementations – as noted in a previous posting, at least one target date has come without its criteria being met.

As an experimental feature, various similar items will be tagged with a picture or icon, which may be subject-matter related, or may link multiple recommendations to an incident with common potential application. The idea is to see how they are connected in real life, and how the recommendations are linked between chapters and categories. A work-in-progress visualization can be seen downloaded here.

Some recommendations include additional annotation – most in cases where implementation seems stalled or in peril. Again, this is all a work-progress, here at the Declaration as well as writ-large.

CNA Report

6 Categories for reform make up 6 Chapters of the CNA Corporation report,  An Assessment of Deadly Force in the Philadelphia Police Department

Philadelphia Police Target Timeline to Meet Basic Criteria, DOJ/CNA Recommendations

In the list below, recommendations which should be complete according to the police target date are in red. Recommendations that have a “Pending” or “N/A” annotation are in bold italics, and other alterations are explained as necessary.

Use of Force Policies
  • 1.1 PPD should develop a standard training module on Directives 10 and 22 and require all sworn personnel to complete the training on an annual basis. 6/1

Directives 10 and 22 are both PPD policies on the use of force.

Directive 22 covers the general guidelines for the application of force through the “force continuum,” an escalating scale of officer force options in proportion to suspect resistance (officer presence >  verbal commands > physical control > less than lethal force > deadly force). It includes regulations for use of force without a weapon and for the use of OC spray, use of the baton/ASP, and use of the electronic control weapon (ECW), commonly known by the brand name Taser.

Directive 10 outlines policy and procedures for the use of force specifically involving discharge of a firearm.

  • 1.2 PPD should engage with officers and supervisors at the patrol level to seek their input on the clarity and comprehensibility of the department’s use of force directives. 5/31
  • 2.1 PPD should revise Directives 10 and 22 at the same time to ensure the policies provide clear and consistent direction and guidance. 5/31
  • 2.2 For each district/unit, PPD should designate or assign an individual who is responsible for policy and training bulletin dissemination and auditing. 5/27
  • 2.3 PPD should incorporate officer’s acknowledgement of receipt of training bulletins and policy updates into the PPD’s training record-keeping system. 12/31
  • 3 PPD should update Directive 10 to include additional narrative context describing the appropriate level of force to be applied under various circumstances. 5/31
  • 4 PPD should remove the term “probable cause” from Directive 10 and expound upon the principles of Graham v. Connor to guide officers in deadly force decision-making. 5/31

Graham v Connor is a 1989 Supreme Court decision that established the 4th Amendment as the primary standard in questions of police use-of-force, and held that “objective reasonableness” under the 4th Amendment standard must take into account the officer’s contemporaneous perspective. “Its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation,” and without regard to the officer’s perceived motivations.

  • 5 PPD should remove the term “imminent threat” from Directive 10. 5/31
  • 6.1 PPD’s “duty to intervene” should be revised to account for any officers witnessing the inappropriate initiation of force. 5/31
  • 6.2 PPD’s “duty to intervene” should be expanded to include a “duty to report.” 5/31
  • 7 Directive 22 should state that officers are required to carry OC spray on their duty belt at all times while on duty.  5/31

Taser X-26, an Electronic Control Weapon

  • 8.1 PPD should decouple ECWs and CIT both conceptually and operationally. 5/31

PPD policy had required officers to complete crisis intervention training (CIT) to be issued an electronic control weapon (ECW), which the report authors found to be 1) an unnecessary restriction on force options, for officers who will have a gun no matter what; and 2) harmful in that it linked CIT, which trains officers to respond to persons in distress and often mentally ill, to the use of a painful and dangerous weapon.

All recommendations for ECWs besides their standard-issue have been completed, according the PPD matrix.

  • 8.2 ECWs should be a standard issued weapon for all PPD officers assigned to uniform street enforcement units. 12/31
  • 8.3 All PPD officers in uniformed enforcement units should be required to carry ECWs on their duty belt at all times. 5/31
  • 8.4 PPD should continue to dispatch CIT officers to calls for service involving persons in a probable state of mental crisis. 5/31
  • 9.1 PPD’s ECW policy should limit the number of cycles used per subject to three. 5/31
  • 9.2 PPD’s use of force decision chart policy should clearly illustrate where using ECWs are appropriate and inappropriate. 5/31
  • 9.3 ECW discharges used against handcuffed persons should be permissible only in cases where the officer or another is in danger of serious bodily injury. 5/31
  • 9.4 Officers who accidentally discharge an ECW and strike a suspect or non-suspect should be required to complete a use of force report. 5/31
  • 10 PPD should amend its policy and include a stronger prohibition on shooting at moving vehicles. 5/31
Basic Recruit Training
  • 11.1 PPD should revise the sequencing of its academy curriculum so that recruits are continually building on previously learned skills. 7/1
  • 11.2 Skills that require continual training and refinement, such as firearms, defensive tactics, and driving, should be staggered throughout the length of the academy. 7/1
  • 12 PPD Should establish a minimum continuing education requirement for all training staff to remain certified by PPD. 7/1
  • 13 PPD should create formal, ongoing collaboration between FTU and the academy. 5/15
  • 14.1 PPD should review and update its defensive tactics manual at least once every two years, taking into account PPD officer experiences and emerging best practices from the field. 5/30
  • 14.2 Ground fighting should be a part of PPD’s defensive tactics training. 6/1
  • 14.3 The PPD should discontinue training on the use of neck restraints and eliminate its use from the field except in exigent circumstances when life or grave bodily harm are at risk. 5/1
  • 15.1 PPD should revamp its academy de-escalation training, ensuring that recruits receive more hours of scenario training, which allows each recruit to exercise and be evaluated on verbal de-escalation skills. 7/1
  • 15.2 PPD de-escalation training should be expanded to include a discussion of tactical de-escalation. 7/1
  • 16 ECW certification should be incorporated into PPD’s basic recruit academy. 5/31
  • 17.1 PPD’s academy should significantly increase the scope and duration of its training on core and advanced community oriented policing concepts. 08/24 Academy lesson plans; direct observation (if practical) 10/01 interview with academy staff; interview with academy recruit(s)  
  • 17.2 PPD should develop and implement an action plan in response to the organizational assessment on community oriented policing policies and practices throughout the department. Pending
  • 18 PPD should conduct a complete audit of its use of force policy and legal instruction conducted throughout the academy and ensure that messaging is clear, consistent, and understandable. 6/1
  • 19 PPD should review all of its use of force course material, including lesson plans, case studies, and scenarios, and ensure that they demonstrate the opportunity for a peaceful resolution. 5/31
  • 20 PPD should increase the amount of reality-based training offered to academy recruits. 7/1
  • 21 PPD scenarios should be developed in a formal fashion and include learning objectives and evaluation criteria. 7/1
  • In-Service Training
  • 22 PPD should develop a field-training program. 5/31
  • 23.1 PPD should add at least one additional day of reality-based training (RBT) to its annual requirements. 7/1
  • 23.2 PPD should include training in procedural justice during the next offering of mandatory inservice program courses. 9/1
  • 23.3 PPD should include training in unconscious bias and law enforcement during the next offering of mandatory in-service program courses. 5/31
  • 24 PPD should require training staff members to work a patrol shift in a two-officer car at least twice annually. 5/31
  • 25.1 PPD should develop a catalog of scenarios based on real-world incidents experienced by PPD officers and other officers across the country. 7/1
  • 25.2 Officer performance in training should be recorded as a way to track officer progress department-wide and flag any tactical issues that may require additional targeted training.  7/1
  • 25.3  PPD should review its training on animal shootings to ensure they are consistent with the community expectations, while considering factors affecting officer safety. 5/31
  • 26 The PPD should create a periodic recertification training program for CIT officers. 8/30
  • 27 PPD should create a periodic recertification training program for electronic control weapons.  7/1
  • 28.1 PPD should reinstitute the rotating simulation use of force training program. 6/1
  • 28.2 PPD should investigate and obtain a sufficient facility, or facilities, to house reality-based training. 6/1
  • 29 PPD should require that officers qualify with their weapons at least twice per year. 7/1
  • 30 PPD should provide periodic defensive tactics training. 6/10
  • 31.1 PPD should establish a single investigative unit devoted to criminal investigations of all deadly force incidents. 11/1
  • 31.2 PPD D-Fit members should have the experience and training necessary to conduct thorough and objective OIS investigations. 11/1
  • 31.3 PPD should develop a manual for conductingOIS investigations from a criminal standpoint. 6/10
  • 32.1 PPD should develop a standard checklist of items constituting a public safety statement that transporting supervisors must obtain from an officer involved in a shooting. 5/31  
  • 32.2 The transporting supervisor should conduct a walk-through of the scene with the discharging officer(s). 5/31
  • 33 PPD should establish a policy that interviews of all critical witnesses and suspects in the course of an OIS investigation will be video and audio recorded. 6/10  
  • 34 PPD should establish a policy that control of an OIS crime scene must be assigned to the criminal investigative unit.  Pending
  • 35.1  PPD should establish a standard for crime scene photography to be incorporated into their OIS investigations manual. 5/1
  • 35.2 The crime scene should be video recorded.  5/1
  • 36.1 PPD should revise its policy and practice so that the criminal investigative unit assigned to each OIS is the primary point of contact with the DAO. IAD should be extricated from this role. 11/1
  • 36.2 The Shooting Team should conduct interviews with the all discharging officer(s) within 72 hours of the incident.  N/A CONTRACTUAL CONFLICTS

In this case and in other recommendations involving treatment of officers firearm discharge, the City’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the FOP has strict, detailed, and prohibitive terms. Most of these are designed to protect police officers’ Garrity Rights.

Garrity Rights:  “protect public employees from being compelled to incriminate themselves during investigatory interviews conducted by their employers. “

  • 36.3 IAD should set a goal to close administrative investigations within 30 days of the DAO’s declination. 05/13  ;  06/10 
  • 36.4 All interviews of discharging officers should be video recorded. N/A CONTRACTUAL CONFLICTS

  • 37 Current and future members of the Shooting Team should be required to receive specialized training in officer-involved shootings. Shooting team manual; lesson plan(s); QIST or other PPD system data for tracking training completion; interview with investigator(s) 6/10
  • 38 The Shooting Team should establish a policy to review their investigation and findings with other departmental experts. Shooting team manual; general order or policy prescribing OIS response; investigative files; interview with investigator(s); UFRB observations 6/10
  • 39.1 The Shooting Team should significantly enhance their investigative scope to include officer tactics and decision-making. Shooting team manual; general order or policy prescribing OIS response; investigative files; interview with investigator(s); UFRB observations. 6/10
  • 39.2 Shooting Team investigative reports should highlight findings and any inconsistencies in policy, procedure, and training for the Use of Force Review Board to evaluate in their decision. 6/10
  • 39.3 The Shooting Team should develop an operations manual, delineating all of their investigative activities, reporting, and role in the review process.  6/10
Use of Deadly Force Review and Officer Accountability
  • 40.1 PPD should dismantle the two-board system for OISs and combine the functions of the UFRB and PBI into one, integrated board.  N/A CONTRACTUAL CONFLICTS

The Use of Force Review Board (UFRB) and Police Board of Inquiry (PBI) both make determinations in police firearm discharge cases. The latter is guaranteed, again, in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and is a level of disciplinary appezl the FOP is unlikely to want to surrender.

The PBI is made up of police officers on a panel, with the case presented by a police officer called the police advocate. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, officers are entitled to counsel retained by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and paid by the City legal defense fund for that purpose. The police department is the only city union that utilizes its legal defense fund to pay for counsel for disciplinary matters .

  • 40.2 The newly established board should conduct a comprehensive review of each incident.   6/10
  • 40.3 Voting board members should include command staff, a sworn officer one rank higher than the involved officer, a peer officer, and at least one citizen. 12/31
  • 40.4 Shooting Team investigators should make a formal presentation of the facts to the board, highlighting any potential conflicts and key points for deliberation amongst the board.  6/10
  • 40.5 Board members should have the opportunity to call witnesses and ask questions related to the incident.  6/10
  • 40.6 After board proceedings are complete, voting members should deliberate the case and issue a finding by majority vote.   6/10
  • 41 PPD should delineate the various firearms related violations in its disciplinary code and the penalties for first, second and third time offenders.  N/A CONTRACTUAL CONFLICTS

The City’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 prevents the department from making summary changes to the disciplinary code. The current Agreement will be in effect for more more than another year, at which time any changes made to it or the to the disciplinary code must be mutually agreed upon, or ordered through the arbitration process.

  • 42.1 The UFRB should review and, if appropriate, approve all recommendations for commendations of any officer involved in a deadly force incident. 6/10
  • 42.2 The department should develop a commendation that recognizes when an officer uses exceptional tactical or verbal skills to avoid a deadly force situation.  5/31
  • 43 PPD should refine its Case Review Program and review its metrics, thresholds, procedures, and organizational structure to ensure that it is best serving the interests of the department, the officers, and the community.   6/10
  • 44.1 The department should establish a permanent office for organizational learning and improvement related to officer safety, tactics, and use of force. 6/24
  • 44.2 The newly established office should convene a working group at least bi-annually. 6/24
External Oversight and Transparency
  • 45.1 PPD should, at a minimum, publish Directives 10, 22, and the yet-to-be-written directive on the UFRB on their OIS webpage.  10/30
  • 45.2 PPD should update its website as case files are closed and available for public dissemination. 12/1
  • 45.3 The PPD website should be updated to include more detailed accounts of OIS and DAO review of the incident.  6/10
  • 45.4 PPD should publish a detailed report on use of force, including deadly force, on an annual basis. The report should be released to the public. 2/1
  • 46 PPD should work with PAC and accommodate requests for important documentation, investigative files, and data related to all uses of force, including OISs.   Pending
  • 47.1 PPD should establish a policy stating the Police Commissioner, or designee, will hold a press conference on OIS incident within 72 hours of the incident. 6/30
  • 47.2 PPD should enter into an agreement with the Police Advisory Commission, allowing a PAC observer access to all pertinent documentation related to an OIS investigation.  5/27
  • 47.3 The Police Commissioner should enter into a memorandum of understanding with an external, independent investigative agency, through which the investigation of all OISs involving an unarmed person will be submitted for review.   6/24
  • 48.1 PPD should collaborate with the multiple stakeholders in the development of policies and protocols for use of BWCs. 12/31
  • 48.2 PPD should actively monitor the implementation of BWCs and study its effects on the department’s objectives.  12/31
  • 48.3 PPD should address major training and policy concerns prior to the deployment of BWCs. 12/31

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 are 2 comments

  1. wjacobr

    This looks more like a path toward increasing force, not de-escalatioin. There is nothing in this about deescalation. And ‘non-compliance’ can be anything. Right up the ladder it goes.


    1. Kenneth Lipp

      CIT, or crisis intervention training, is deescalation training, and several other recommendations would deescalation as an element. Non-compliance is fairly vague but I would not worry so much about specific terms being missing from the bullet points, which will in any case be found in the actual orders and policies as issued.


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