Pulse: Politics: Philly 911
It’s a non-race for mayor this month, so the political class is focusing its chatter on the race for the chair of departing police commissioner Sylvester Johnson. Michael Nutter is politely unhelpful on the topic, saying only that he will look “locally, regionally and nationally” for his top cop. With anyone with a pulse and a badge the subject of rumor, we suss out some likely candidates.
Why Him: This 49-year-old chief inspector for internal affairs is respected for his two-year stint in the late ’90s as captain of North Philly’s notoriously troubled 25th District. “I met mothers who told me they put their kids to sleep at night in the bathtub,” he says, “because the porcelain offered extra protection from any stray bullets that might come flying through the walls.”
Why Not: Nutter probably needs a sexier pick. Odds: 18-1
Why Him: The old Irish cop, 59, has been the subject of rumor for years, either in a return to the commissioner’s chair or as “public safety czar.” He wouldn’t talk to us, but as recently as July, Timoney left his post in Miami to attend a combination bike race/fund-raiser here in Philly. Clearly we have a hold on his heart. Can his ass be far behind?
Why Not: Critics say he’s a glory hog. But they don’t have the ammo to stop his march back to Philly if Nutter issues the invitation. Odds: 3-2
Mike Chitwood Jr.
Why Him: Junior, 43, says he loves his work as police chief in Daytona Beach (big surprise), but talks like a Nutter acolyte. “We’re both St. Joe’s Prep grads,” he says. “And that shapes people. The Jesuits are an odd order, and I think you’re going to see a lot of bold, creative thinking out of him as mayor.”
Why Not: Media-friendly (to say the least) Junior is a love-him-or-hate-him type — Clint Eastwood with a limp from chasing down so many bad guys (or too many TV cameras). Odds: 7-1
Why Him: The rank and file love the recently retired chief inspector, calling him “a grumpy SOB who got the job done” and lauding him for having balls so titanic that he actually wrote a letter to the editor of the Inquirer — and signed his name to it!
Why Not: Fox, 55, may be too well loved by the rank and file. He’d also have to explain his criticism of neighborhood residents and activists who blame “social ills” instead of criminals. Odds: 20-1
Mike Chitwood Sr.
Why Him: At 63, the ex-city homicide cop and current Upper Darby police superintendent is itching for a reunion. “It would be good if both Chitwoods came back,” says Dad. “One as police commissioner, and one as deputy. And obviously, ’cause I’m the senior guy, I’d be police commissioner.”
Why Not: It’s hard to imagine Nutter embracing a chief who calls criminals “scumbags.” Odds: 5-1
Why Him: His trusted staff sergeant, Chris Bee, just happens to be pals with … Michael Nutter.
Why Not: After 36 relatively quiet years on the job, chief inspector Bullick, 58, may make deputy commish, but the big chair is likely out of reach. Odds: 8-1
Why Him: Ross has been a hot pick to succeed Johnson for three or four years now. Buzz has been building around him on the police gossip site Domelights.com, creating a certain aura of inevitability.
Why Not: Ross, 43, won a lot of admirers during his time in the city’s homicide department, but some fear the current deputy commissioner for internal affairs is too closely linked to Johnson. Odds: 3-2