Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

What happened to police review board proposal?

There's quite a bit of buzz surrounding a bill that wasn't introduced in City Council on Thursday.

What happened to police review board proposal?

There’s quite a bit of buzz surrounding a bill that wasn’t introduced in City Council on Thursday.


Councilman Curtis Jones had planned on introducing legislation that would’ve amended the City Charter to create a permanent independent Police Review Commission to handle allegations of police misconduct.


Earlier in the week, Jones said in a statement that the commission would be required to reply to citizen complaints about misconduct within seven days, and compile reports that would list the status of the complaints and sort the complainants by gender, race, age and sexual orientation.

At the last minute, though, Jones pulled the bill.


“He held off. He knew we were going to be opposed to it. I believe the Nutter administration was also opposed,” said John McNesby, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.

McNesby said the Police Department doesn’t need “another level of bureaucracy” to look over its shoulder.

 
The department has its own Internal Affairs Bureau, McNesby said, and works regularly on corruption issues with the FBI, District Attorney’s Office and Department of Justice.

 


Mayor Nutter said on Friday that he hadn’t had any conversations with Jones about the bill.
“It’s a little premature to weigh in on a matter that doesn’t exist on paper,” Nutter said.


Nutter created the current civilian-run Police Advisory Commission 20 years ago, when he was a city councilman.


That commission is supposed to investigate misconduct complaints and police policies, and make recommendations to the Police Department. It has no power to enforce any changes.


The commission has regularly gone years without compiling annual reports or other studies.


“No one pays any attention to them,” McNesby said.

The Police Advisory Commission did make headlines earlier this month, when Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey agreed with the group’s recommendation that a pair of cops should review departmental policy because they searched a property in 2010 without a warrant and assaulted a resident while inside.


Jones didn’t shed much light on why he decided to table his proposal.

"What we decided to do was work with the Administration, the FOP and other stakeholders who have brought many of these concerns about the police advisory commission to our attention to try to take something that is good and make it better," he said.

"There's a whole list of things we need to examine like the time it takes for the Commission to process a complaint.


"We need to take a look at the fact, and keep in mind that both the public requires that and the officers too who have clouds over their head would like to be exonerated if they are innocent. It's not one side versus the other but improving the process holistically," Jones said.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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