Here’s the List of Demands Most of City Council Just Gave to Kenney for Philly Police Reform

Plus: The latest crime stats are out. And they’re not good.

philly police

Protestors clash with Philly police near City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on May 30, 2020. Cities around the nation see thousands take to the streets to protest police brutality after the murder of George Floyd. Now, Philadelphia City Council demands police reforms. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A roundup of Philly news. This post may be updated at any time as new information becomes available.

14 City Council Members Send List of Philly Police Reform Demands to Mayor Kenney

You’ll probably remember the “painful” budget proposal that Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney sent to City Council way back at the beginning of May. Seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?

Part of that budget proposal includes a $14 million increase for the Philadelphia Police Department, which already accounts for the largest chunk of the city’s budget — by far. City Council and Kenney were always going to go to battle over his budget proposal, because it drastically slashes funds to many departments and offices, and completely eliminates some. But in the wake of the George Floyd protests and the nationwide call for police reform, that battle has taken on a new light.

On Monday, 14 of Philadelphia’s 17 City Council members fired off a letter to Kenney about the Philadelphia Police Department and his proposed budget increase for it.

“Our police department consumes a sixth of our operating budget, three quarters of a billion dollars,” they wrote. (Emphasis theirs.) “Since 2016, the police budget has increased by about $120 million. Given that context, and the deep cuts proposed for virtually every other department, we cannot accept the proposed $14 million increase to the police budget for Fiscal Year 2021.”

The letter goes on to make a list of demands (they call them “recommendations,” but that’s just because they’re being all civil and whatnot) regarding police reform in Philadelphia. They are as follows:

    • Fully resourced, independent police oversight, including authority to conduct contemporaneous, independent review of civilian complaints and use-of-force incidents.
    • Establishment of specific criteria for designation of an investigation as internal.
    • Expanded reporting of civilian complaints and internal investigations, as well as specific criteria for limitation of information reported.
    • Inclusion of community members and outside experts on the Use of Force Review Board (automatically reviews police-involved shootings) and Police Board of Inquiry (hears civilian complaints that are deemed sustained by Internal Affairs investigation). Charging and presentation of cases to both boards by independent civilian personnel. Notification to public of hearing time, location, and subject matter.
    • Early warning systems to track indicators of risk for serious misconduct and to enable nondisciplinary remedial action.
    • Systematic tracking and reporting of incidents in which officers witnessed the use of inappropriate or excessive force by a colleague.
    • Non-punitive peer reviews of serious incidents, separate from criminal and administrative investigations, to identify systemic reforms that safeguard against such incidents. Incidents reviewed should include both incidents causing harm and “near misses.”
    • Detailed guidance regarding the circumstances under which firearms may and should be unholstered or pointed. Require reporting of such actions, similar to reporting required for discharge of a firearm.
    • Explicit prohibition of sitting or kneeling on a person’s neck, face, or head.
    • Systematic reforms to eliminate unconstitutional “stop and frisk.”
    • Outside review of police code of conduct to inform the collective bargaining process.
    • Inclusion of community representatives and outside experts in any collective bargaining process relating to law enforcement personnel.
    • Council and community input, including a public hearing, on any collective bargaining agreement relating to law enforcement personnel.
    • Restoration of residency requirements for police personnel.
    • A plan to enhance racial and geographic recruitment diversity, with reporting on progress towards plan goals.

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

And if you’re wondering who hasn’t signed on… David Oh, Brian O’Neill, and Bobby Henon, a.k.a. the Johnny Doc lackey currently under federal indictment.

Philly Police Release New Crime Stats — And They’re Not Good

Once a week, the Philadelphia Police Department releases a spreadsheet detailing crime incidents over the previous week and analyzing those numbers against historical numbers, i.e. the previous week and the previous year. That report came out on Monday, and some of those numbers are bleak.

In April, we reported that homicides were up 17 percent year-to-date, and the latest report shows that homicides are now up nearly 20 percent.

But that report is based on data that ends sometime on Sunday, and when you factor in the homicides since then, you’re actually looking at an increase of 25 percent year-to-date. Definitely moving in the wrong direction. Shooting incidents — homicides included — are up nearly 70 percent.

We ended 2019 with 356 homicides, which was the biggest number since 2007. Last year on this date, we had 139 homicides. This year, we’re already at 174. And I hate to tell you this, but we’ve surpassed 2007’s number as well.

The other number that jumps out from the new statistics report is under the commercial burglaries category. Commercial burglaries are up 234 percent year-to-date. They were already up significantly during the coronavirus lockdown in Philadelphia. And then came the looting. From April 13th through May 10th, there were 135 commercial burglaries reported in Philadelphia. From May 11th through Sunday? 1,149.

More Than 10,000 Sign Petition to End “Police State Collusion” at UPENN

There’s a petition circulating demanding the way that policing is handled on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. And it’s up to 10,834 signatures.

“The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others continue to bring into focus the racist fascist police state that exists in the U.S.,” reads the petition, which is address to Penn president Amy Gutmann, the deans, and the board. “As members of the Penn community, we stand in solidarity with our comrades protesting this state on the streets of Minneapolis, Brunswick, Atlanta, New York City, Philadelphia, and the rest of the country. Moreover, we stand against the manner in which this police state is institutionalized at the University of Pennsylvania, which includes racially-biased surveillance, reporting, arrest practices, the advocacy of militarized models of campus policing, and the implementation of policing measures that cut Penn off from the communities surrounding it.”

The petition then goes on to call for ten immediate changes, ranging from completely divesting from “corporations like Philadelphia-based Aramark that profit from the prison industrial complex” to banning “the use of guns on campus by the university police force.” You can read all of the demands here.

“The violent police state is alive and well in Philadelphia, and we believe that the University is fully complicit in the structural conditions that have led to the lynchings of Black men, women, and transgender people in our communities,” concludes the petition. “It is time for Penn to demonstrate that it is serious about divesting from this regime of violence.”

And Briefly Noted…