With Philadelphia’s violent crime surging, president Robert Eddis of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents the city’s 6,400 sworn officers, says Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson should go. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that as of yesterday, the city had 393 killings, compared with 366 last year. The city is on pace to top 400 slayings, the most in a year since 1997. “We’re on a losing team right now, and the officers are in distress,” Eddis said.
A spokesman for Mayor John Street said the mayor backs the commissioner. Eddis, a retired officer, said he did not blame Johnson for the crime spike. He argued that the entire department needs a thorough reexamination. The soft way in which the union president broached the subject may reflect the popularity of the commissioner, who has developed loyal grassroots support in many parts of the city. Johnson, who has been with the force for more than four decades, has said he will retire when Street leaves office in 2008. State Rep. Dwight Evans has announced his candidacy for mayor and said he would try to bring back Johnson’s predecessor, John Timoney, now the police chief in Miami.