SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel on Body Cameras and Cheese Sandwiches

On Twitter, at least, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel might be the most gregarious police officer in the city, virtually palling around with journalists and regular citizens alike. (He runs neck and neck, digitally, with Philly Police Detective Joseph Murray.) He regularly posts photos of fare-jumpers being caught by his officers, appended with the #cheesesandwich hashtag — the cheese sandwich being what they serve you as a meal in jail.

But Nestel also takes his job seriously. He recently announced a pilot program to put body cameras on his officers — a move that should cheer civil libertarians who point out that similar programs have resulted in steep drops in complaints against officers where such systems are already used.

“I’d like to see a reduction in the incidents where we have to respond to resistance. I’d like to see a reduction in the number of complaints,” he told Philly Mag recently. “And I think that this would also be a tremendous tool to help us reduce court overtime, because with audio and video evidence, offenders are going to be more likely to plead guilty and minimize the number of times that we have to send officers to court.”

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Atlantic City Councilman Indicted for Allegedly Wearing Ex-Cop’s Shirt, in Thing That Actually Happened

Atlantic City Councilman Rizwan Malik has been indicted on charges of obstructing the administration of the law and tampering with evidence for wearing a police officer’s shirt and ripping the name badge from it before returning it to police. I am not making this up.

The Press of Atlantic City’s Lynda Cohen reports the charges stem from a fight between Malik and a neighbor that the cops were called to on December 3rd. No charges came from that incident, but the Press writes police reported Malik was wearing a shirt with a “T. Mayfield” name badge. Torres Mayfield is an ex-Atlantic City cop who has run for elected office in the city several times.

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More Grindr Gone Wrong: Delaware Deputy Attorney General Charged With Rape of 16-Year-Old-Boy

daniel simmonsYesterday on G Philly, we reported on the disturbing case of a Philadelphia man who was murdered in Chester after connecting with someone on Grindr. Not far from Chester, in the state of Delaware, another case of “Grindr gone wrong” has landed a deputy attorney general in major hot water.

Wilmington’s Daniel Simmons, 34, was charged with four counts of fourth-degree rape. He is alleged to have sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy he met on Grindr. Simmons was released after posting $45,000 secured bail. According to a report from The News Journal, Simmons, who was assigned to the New Castle County Misdemeanor Trial Unit, had been under investigation since March.

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Let’s Start Videotaping Every Encounter With Philly Police

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It’s time for us — all of us — to start watching the watchers.

One good-slash-bad effect of last week’s revelation that there would be no charges against Philly cops in the series of cases that was reported in the Daily News’ Pulitzer-winning “Tainted Justice” series is the realization, finally, that the Philly Police Department’s bone-deep culture of corruption will not fix itself, won’t be rooted out with half-measures, and must, somehow, be broken.

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Q&A: Jim MacMillan of GunCrisis.org Talks About Philly’s Murder Rate

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Jim MacMillan

2014 is starting out scary. After the record decline in homicides in 2013, the New Year has begun with a homicide-a-day rate reminiscent of the bad old “Killadelphia” days we’d hoped were past. Jim MacMillan, a former Daily News photographer and a founder of GunCrisis.org, tracks violence in the city. He talked with Philly Mag today about what’s happening and why.

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