Nutter Orders Creation of Police Oversight Board

Committee will monitor Philadelphia Police as department implements reforms recommended in Department of Justice report.

Mayor Michael Nutter today ordered the creation of a new independent oversight board to monitor the Philadelphia Police Department as it implements reforms recommended in this week’s report from the Department of Justice.

“It is clear changes need to be made with the use of force, the use of lethal force, all across our city,” Nutter said. “It is an important report, it is a good report on the things we need to do, the things we need to change.” 

Joanne Epps, the dean of Temple University Law School, will lead the new board, Nutter said. Other members of the committee will be announced in coming days, Nutter said. He said the panel will be made up of “community stakeholders, experts in the field of law enforcement and public safety professionals,” none of whom work for the police department.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey was not on hand for Nutter’s announcement; he was out of town on business. Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. attended in Ramsey’s place, flanking Nutter throughout the event.

The DOJ report, issued Monday, documented 394 officer-involved shootings since 2007 — an average of 50 a year. The report identified training and policy issues resulting in that high number, which it said helped create “strife” in the community.

Nutter acknowledged that strife today, saying some neighborhoods see police as an “occupying force” instead of as a source of safety. “We need to end any idea or notion in the community of an us-vs.-them mentality between our citizens and the police force.”

The Epps-led board won’t be the only oversight for police as they attempt reforms. The Department of Justice promised to give updated reports in six months, and then again a year after that. But Nutter suggested it’s important for the city to keep close tabs on the process, as well.

“The goal is a safer city … to develop relationships between citizens and police that allow each to go about their daily business safely,” Nutter said.

The 18-month timeframe for implementing reforms extends beyond the end of Nutter’s term of office early next year, but he said he was unconcerned by that prospect. “Any next mayor,” he said “should care about these issues and should be focused on these issues.”

Read the Executive Order below.

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