The FBI is now investigating six former Philadelphia narcotics officers, according to police. In December, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams wrote a letter to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey stating that the testimony of the six officers would no longer be accepted. So far 270 of their drugs cases have been thrown out of court.
“We made the FBI task force, which is made up of FBI and Philadelphia Police, aware of what’s going on,” said Commissioner Ramsey. “That is continuing at this time. We’ve taken them from narcotics pending the outcome of the investigation.”
Just a few weeks ago, Pulitzer Prize winer Barbara Laker pointed out that her investigation of corruption had resulted in no official sanction against officers accused of wrongdoing. We noted then:
Remember “Tainted Justice?” It was the (deservedly) Pulitzer Prize-winningDaily News series by Barbara Laker and the now-departed Wendy Ruderman, uncovering Shield-like corruption in the Philadelphia Police Department’s Narcotics Field Unit, showing how officers sexually fondled women on raids and disabled video cameras showing evidence of their misconduct.
Four years later, what’s become of that celebrated investigation? Uh, pretty much nothing. Officers in the unit were placed on desk duty and remain there. In the meantime, an FBI probe into the scandal seems to have fizzled out, while the victims of the misconduct are often still working to rebuild their lives.
City Hall has paid out more than $2 million in civil claims against the unit, but the lack of further action has proven frustrating to close observers. “I have two words—crime pays,” said Jerry Ibrahim, an attorney who represented some of the plaintiffs in those suits. “The alleged victims accuse them of committing a crime. The city pays out money for their conduct, but they still have their jobs.”
At this point, it would seem, a terrible injustice has been done. Either a number of Philly police officers have been wrongfully accused of corruption and had their careers unfairly stalled because of it, or a number of Philly police officers have been rightfully accused of corruption and have managed to evade serious penalty for it for years since the allegation came to light. In other case, justice deferred increasingly seems to be justice denied.