January 21st, 2016 update: Subsequent to this post, the Police Department posted all of their directives online, with a new numbering format. To view the most up-to-date directives, click here.
A recent “unpleasant experience” with the Philadelphia Police left South Philly resident Edmund Goppelt with a desire to find out exactly what rules the city’s cops are supposed to follow. So Goppelt, who ran the good government web site Hallwatch.org in the 2000’s, filed a Right to Know request for all of the PPD’s officer directives, received them, and now wants to share them with all of you.
By Edmund Goppelt
One of the questions I had as a result of my experience was under what circumstances a Philadelphia police officer may shoot a citizen’s dog. I found my answer to my question in PPD Directive 10 Use of force—involving the discharge of firearms: “Police officers shall not discharge their firearms at a dog or other animal except to protect themselves or another person from physical injury when there is no other reasonable means to eliminate the threat…”
As a local police force in America, the Philadelphia Police Department is subject to the rule of law and civil authority. In other words, the Police can’t just do whatever they want. They have to follow the law as well as their own internal rules. And the Mayor and City Council of Philadelphia get to say how they want our city policed and how much taxpayer money the Police get.
We give our police awesome powers—to detain people against their will, to take their property, to shoot them dead—on the understanding that Police will only use these powers when they have to and for a legitimate police purpose – in other words, that they will follow the rules.
Every city gets the police department it deserves. If it’s important to you that our Police play by the rules then let Philadelphia City Council and the Mayor know. In my experience, “the rules” rarely enforce themselves. Find out what the rules are governing police conduct. And if you see rules being broken, complain to the Mayor, City Council and the Police Commissioner.
PPD Directives here (Google Drive, list below)
Find out who your elected municipal officials are, and what City Councilmember represents the district where you live, via the Committee of Seventy.
File a Right to Know Act request for records held by the City of Philadelphia
File a complaint with Police Internal Affairs (i.e., the police of the police) against a Philadelphia Police Officer:
Commend an officer for exemplary service.
|1||8/12/2013||Commendations, awards and rewards|
|2||10/19/2012||Responsibilities at crime scenes|
|4||6/11/1999||Official format for written communication|
|5||5/7/1999||Change of address, name or personnel data|
|9||2/4/2013||Investigation of controlled substances|
|10||5/23/2014||Use of force–involving the discharge of firearms|
|11||10/30/2013||Alien/military personnel in police custody and requests for political asylum|
|13||9/4/2014||Court notices and subpoenas|
|16||3/8/2012||Maintenance/repair of police buildings/equipment and decontamination of police personnel vehicles|
|17||1/16/1998||Police response to alarm systems|
|18||9/5/1997||Safety review board|
|19||8/19/2002||Emergency Management liaison officer|
|20||5/1/2014||Vehicle law of PA (vehicle code) violations|
|21||12/8/2011||Code violation notices|
|22||12/20/2010||Use of force [non-deadly]|
|25||1/26/1996||Repair or replacement of snow chains, tires etc…|
|26||6/20/2014||Victim/witness services and crime victims compensation|
|27||2/2/2015||Absent without permission…|
|30||5/18/1999||Vehicle registration data|
|32||7/25/2011||Daily attendance report (DAR)|
|33||2/26/2015||Police and suspect photographs|
|34||4/26/2013||Prisoner constraints: handcuffs, flex cuffs and leg restraints|
|35||3/4/2014||Carnivals, block parties, and play streets|
|37||12/16/1999||Requisitioning of supplies and materials…|
|38||8/9/2002||Complaints and conditions affecting other city departments|
|39||3/4/2014||Malicious damage or vandalism to city property|