The Brief: We’ll Soon Know the Names of All Cops Who Shoot Civilians

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

1. The police department is going to start releasing the names of officers who fire at civilians.

The gistCity Paper reports that Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced in a memo yesterday that “the department will immediately begin disclosing the names of officers who discharge their firearms in Officer-Involved Shootings ‘within seventy-two (72) hours of the incident.'” According to the memo, this was one of the recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Justice in its scathing report on police shootings in Philadelphia. Also, the department will examine each case to ensure that “no threats are made toward the officer or members of their family prior to the release of this information.” Read more »

The Brief: Police Shootings Plummet 62% in Philadelphia

A Philadelphia Police Department promotion ceremony. | Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photo by Mitchell Leff.

A Philadelphia Police Department promotion ceremony. | Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photo by Mitchell Leff.

1. Police shootings fell 62 percent between 2012 and 2014.

The gist: 2012 marked a modern high for police shootings: City cops fired at civilians 104 times that year, killing 16 and injuring 32. Last year, the number of shootings dropped significantly. Philly.com reports that police fired at civilians 40 times in 2014, killing four and injuring 21; so far this year, they killed one person and wounded seven. “This is exactly what we want to see,” Kelvyn Anderson, the director of the watchdog group Police Advisory Commission, told Philly.com. “Whatever the department is doing, this is exactly where we want it to go.”
Read more »

Police Reform Can’t Happen Behind Closed Doors

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Here’s what we know:

Sometime today, members of the Police Community Oversight Board — the 24-member panel appointed by Mayor Nutter to oversee police reform efforts over the next two years — will gather via conference call.

We don’t know when the call will be. We don’t know how to join the call to listen in, if we want. We don’t know precisely what members will be talking about. If there’s someplace that this information has been publicized, I’m not aware of it. In fact, it’s a bit of luck that we even know the call is happening at all.

Which means the “public oversight” part of police reform, it seems, is getting off to a slow and opaque start. And that seems like a bad omen for a process that is supposed to result, at least in part, in a much more transparent police department.

Read more »

Hero Cop Stops Rising Sun Pizza Robbery In Northeast Philly

Rising Sun Pizza via Google Maps

Rising Sun Pizza via Google Maps

A Philadelphia Police detective stopped a robbery Thursday night at a popular pizza joint in Northeast Philly, getting in a shootout with a gunman who, it turned out, was literally firing blanks. That suspect died, but another is still being sought.

Late on Thursday night, around 11:30 p.m., an off-duty Philadelphia Police detective dressed in regular street clothes stopped by Rising Sun Pizza at 6919 Rising Sun Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia to pick up some dinner. Read more »

The Brief: Why Are Minorities Shunning Careers as Cops in Philly?

A Philadelphia Police Department promotion ceremony. | Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photo by Mitchell Leff.

A Philadelphia Police Department promotion ceremony. | Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photo by Mitchell Leff.

1. Why does the Philadelphia Police Department have so few minority recruits?

The gist: Citified and other outlets have reported before on the race gap in the Philadelphia police department. Compared to the demographic makeup of the city itself, white cops are over-represented, and black, Latino and Asian cops are underrepresented. But why? Mensah Dean takes a stab at answering that question in a Daily News cover story today that focuses on the department’s recruiting practices. Dean zooms in on hiring requirements that include a polygraph test, a minimum of 60 hours of college credit and psychological exams. The report suggests those requirements — which were put into place by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey — are creating unnecessary hurdles, particularly for would-be minority recruits.

Why it matters: Ramsey co-chaired President Obama’s task force on 21st Century Policing, and one of its key recommendations was for police departments to diversify their workforces. The Daily News report suggests Ramsey could start at home. Read more »

Acquitted Officers Won’t Get Parade Honor

philadelphia-narcotics-cops-corrected-940x540

Plans to honor six acquitted narcotics officers at a parade benefitting a police charity have been dropped after parade organizers came under criticism.

The officers — Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Linwood Norman — were part of the narcotics unit in the Philadelphia Police Department. All had been charged with RICO conspiracy, among other counts, and all were found not guilty this month after a federal trial. 

The annual Hero Thrill Show, which raises scholarship funds for the sons and daughters of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty, had planned on honoring the six at its annual parade. But those plans have been withdrawn by James J. Binns, CEO and president of the show. Read more »

Here’s the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed by Brandon Tate-Brown’s Family

Tanya Dickerson, center, is flanked by Asa Khalif, left, and Brian Mildenberg, right, during a press conference on Thursday. Dickerson's son, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot to death by police in December; DA Seth Williams announced earier in the day no charges would be filed in the death.

Tanya Brown-Dickerson, center, is flanked by Asa Khalif, left, and Brian Mildenberg, right, during a press conference in March. Dickerson’s son, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot to death by police in December.

The family of Brandon Tate-Brown has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia — and is asking for a court to take control of the departmental reform efforts initiated by Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday with the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas seeks to be given class-action status, saying Tate-Brown’s December death after being pulled over by police is representative of broader training and oversight failures diagnosed by the Department of Justice in its March report on the department’s use-of-force practices.

“The deficiencies in PPD training found by the DOJ Report contributed to and were a substantial factor in the unlawful pullover, arrest, seizure, beating, and killing of Brandon Tate-Brown,” said the complaint filed by Brian Mildenberg, the attorney for Tate-Brown’s mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson. (See the full complaint below.)

A Philadelphia Police spokesman referred inquiries to the city solicitor’s office. A call to that office was not immediately returned. Read more »

Civic League, Williams Want Police Commissioner Gone

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

If the Guardian Civic League — a group representing Philadelphia’s black police officers — has its way, the next mayor will put a brand-new police commissioner in the department’s top job.

If he becomes mayor, Anthony Williams will be happy to oblige.

“I’m not gonna say I’ll fire someone. But we differ, and I don’t compromise,” said Williams, citing Commissioner Charles Ramsey’s implementation of “stop-and-frisk” policy during his tenure here.

NewsWorks reports on objections raised by the league — led by Rochelle Bilal — to Ramsey: Read more »

Tell Us All About It: One of Philly’s Best 911 Dispatchers Speaks

911 dispatcher Celestine Stanford at her desk inside the Police Administration Building, where she takes hundreds of calls each day. Photo | Christine O'Brien, Philadelphia Police Department

911 dispatcher Celestine Stanford at her desk inside the Police Administration Building, where she takes hundreds of calls each day. Photo | Christine O’Brien, Philadelphia Police Department

911 operators in Philadelphia have a rough job. Anyone who calls these civil servants is either complaining about something or reporting a serious emergency (or making a prank call), and often, lives hang in the balance. So we decided to get one of them on the phone to find out what it’s like. Meet South Philadelphia’s Celestine Stanford, a 56-year-old St. Maria Goretti graduate who has been taking your 911 calls for 28 years. Last week, the Philadelphia Police Department announced that Stanford was one of three winners of the 2015 Dispatcher of the Year Awards. Read more »

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