Fourteen of the 17 Philadelphia City Council members wrote a letter to Mayor Jim Kenney Monday with recommendations to reform the Police Department.
The letter proposes guidelines to enhance accountability and transparency of police officers’ actions and demands the elimination of certain tactics, including “sitting or kneeling on a person’s neck, face or head.” They also said that they “cannot accept the proposed $14 million increase” to the police department.
“Philadelphia can’t breathe. In the poorest big city in America, during a global health pandemic and a massive economic crisis, the people of our city are telling us that police reform cannot wait. We must hear them and act decisively,” the letter began.
The Council Member´s recommendations were prompted by the mass protests in Philadelphia and across the country in response to George Floyd´s death.
The letter was signed by Council President Darrell Clarke, Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla, Jamie Gauthier, Curtis Jones Jr., Maria Quinones Sanchez, Cindy Bass, Cherelle Parker, Kendra Brooks, Allan Domb, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Derek Green, Helen Gym and Isaiah Thomas.
These are the recommended guidelines:
- 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.
The three Council members who didn’t sign the letter are David Oh, Brian O’Neill and Bobby Henon.