Justice Department Releases Interim Report on Philly Use of Force Reform

Left to right: Deputy Commissioner Ross, Commissioner Ramsey, Mayor Nutter, US Attorney Memeger, COPS Office Director Davis and former Madison, WI Chief Wray.

Left to right: Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross, Commissioner Ramsey, Mayor Nutter, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, COPS Office Director Ronald Davis and former Madison, WI police chief Noble Wray. Photo by Austin Nolen.

By Austin Nolen

The Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) Office of the Department of Justice today released a progress report on the first six months of a program to reform the handling of deadly force incidents by Philadelphia police.

The initial report, released last March, contains 48 findings and 91 separate recommendations regarding use of force by city police, ranging from training to discipline. 21 of these recommendations have been fully implemented, according to the report. There have been no progress on nine, and the remaining 61 are in progress.

The majority of recommendations labelled as “no progress” in the report involve deadly force incident investigations. At a press conference earlier today, retiring Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced that the police department was drafting an agreement with the Pennsylvania State Police to have the statewide agency take the lead in investigating officer-involved shootings in Philadelphia. According to Ramsey, this would help resolve the unmet recommendations for investigations.

Asked by reporters whether the police department would begin releasing shooting investigation files to the public, Ramsey stated that this would not occur as part of the reform process, though he believes in releasing more detailed summaries to the public. Even after the investigation is closed, he said, “we have to be concerned about the individuals involved, and whether or not we’re somehow compromising them.”

Ramsey also acknowledged that some of the recommendations “will require negotiation with the union… That’s a slower process, obviously.” The Fraternal Order of Police has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board over some of the changes which have already been implemented.

COPS Office Director Ronald Davis, a former police chief of Palo Alto, California, also spoke at the press conference. He praised the progress of the Philadelphia Police Department thus far.

“We have the obligation to be critical, as a community, when looking at police,” Davis said. “The most powerful exercise of government authority is to use force, especially deadly force.”

Deputy police commissioner Richard Ross, who will succeed Ramsey as commissioner under Mayor Kenney’s incoming administration, also affirmed his support for the reform process.

The full six-month interim report is available below:

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s