In the context of the unrest that has swept the nation and the city of Philadelphia over George Floyd’s death, 7h District Councilwoman, María Quiñones, expressed Thursday in a statement, the urgent need to enact a permanent citizen-led police advisory commission to investigate officer misconduct.
“We must enact a permanent, independent, citizen-led police advisory commission with real powers to investigate, to discipline, to enforce, and to change policies that include public reporting and accountability when it comes to officer misconduct, limits on use of force, limits on racial profiling, limits on stops, searches, and arrests, and protections against hate crimes and sexual assaults”, the Councilmember said.
Quiñones mentioned the initiatives that have been carried out before with the same purpose. These include an executive order from Mayor Michael Nutter who in 2015 created a citizen oversight board and carry out the recommendations of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The creation of this board revealed that the Philadelphia Police Departmet “only sustained 138 of 8,555 complaints of misconduct over a four year period between 2013 and 2016.”
This oversight board followed the proposals she made with Curtis Jones Jr., Cindy Bass, Kenyatta Johnson in 2012 and 2014. The goal was to establish a permanent, citizen-run Police Advisory Commission to investigate and change department misconduct policies. These included limits on use of force, on racial profiling and protections against hate crimes and sexual assault.
“Together, we reset police policies and procedures including 7 of the 8 that Can’t Wait, that is, the 8 actions trending on Twitter today that reduce police violence by 75%,” explained the Councilwoman.
However, Quiñones pointed out in the statement that it has not yet been possible to implement “the 8th action,” which represents the presentation of public reports accessible through a system of anonymous complaints online and which would ensure the full effectiveness of the other actions.
“We did not achieve and we have still not achieved”, she stated, “the 8th action that brings it all together , that reduces 25% of killings alone because it gives all the other actions teeth , and that is the requirement of accessible public reporting, through a complaint system that is anonymous, online, and available in multiple formats and languages at nonpolice locations.”
According to the councilwoman, this action would permit the establishment of” a system that identifies officers by name, and that pinpoints the date, time, location, evidence, and both actual and perceived identity of those who are stopped, searched, arrested, profiled, or victimized.”
Hence the importance of transparency in police procedures. “We simply cannot achieve meaningful policy reform without real accountability and transparency,” stated Quiñones.