Philly PD Bows To Union Pressure, Guts Independent Officer-Involved-Shooting Board Ordered By The DOJ
from the model-of-servitude dept
The Philadelphia Police Department is one of many to be on the receiving end of a consent decree with the DOJ. Most PDs finding themselves in this position earn it through years of abusive policing and a consistent disregard for constitutional rights and civil liberties. The Philly PD is no exception.
This department has been trying to make the changes recommended by the Justice Department, but apparently found some of the DOJ's hurdles too high for it to jump… at least willingly. That hasn't stopped police officials from declaring their inability to live up to the DOJ's standards a success, however.
An Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Unit was established within the Philadelphia Police Department Jan. 1, Commissioner Richard Ross announced Friday.
The creation of the unit was a result of a Department of Justice study that recommended departmental reforms focused on the use of deadly force by police officers.
"The Philadelphia Police Department will now be a model for departments across the country," said COPS director Ronald Davis.
Hold your applause…
However, one of the study's major recommendations - that an outside agency should investigate officer-involved shootings - could not be fulfilled, Davis said.
"Philadelphia tried many alternatives but it could not work," Davis said.
The COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) has an interesting definition of "could not." It could have worked, but the commissioner was unwilling to go up against the force behind the city's police force to do it. The federal government proclaims something must happen. The commissioner runs up against some resistance and decides it's impossible. Now, the city's residents can look forward to shootings by officers being handled completely internally, which will do little to deter the sort of activity that led to the DOJ's intercession in the first place.
The commissioner did at least obliquely address the obstacle he's unwilling to remove to better implement the DOJ's recommendation.
Finally, Ross said the "elephant in the room" was that the department faced opposition on the proposal from its union, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.
This is why we can't have
nice accountable things. The FOP managed to defang the OIS Board, turning it into an internal, opaque process where officers have a 72-hour "cooling off" period before having to face a series of lobbed softballs by the PD's internal review board.
As an alternative to an outside agency conducting investigations, Ross established the Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Unit so the process is now bifurcated - the criminal aspect will be handled by the new unit, and the administrative aspect will continue to be handled by the department's Internal Affairs Unit.
And yet, it's being hailed by a federal COPS official as a "model" for the nation's police departments. Yeah, this is a model, alright -- a model for every police union faced with a DOJ consent decree. Flex enough muscle and police officials will blow off federal recommendations to ensure future cooperation in policymaking and labor negotiations.