Philly’s Rules for Cops – The Complete PPD Directives

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 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
3 1/23/2012 Towing
4 6/11/1999 Official format for written communication
5 5/7/1999 Change of address, name or personnel data
6 3/8/2013 Police radio
7 1/10/2014 Search warrants
8 3/9/2000 Vice
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
12 1/6/2013 FBI jurisdiction
13 9/4/2014 Court notices and subpoenas
14 3/29/1996 Pawnbrokers…
15 4/16/2014 Informants
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]
23 4/25/2012 Performance reports
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…
28 11/3/2006 Security checks
29 11/24/2004 Schools
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
36 1/21/2010 Abandoned vehicles
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
40 8/15/2000 Computer messages

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s