Philadelphia Advisory Panel Gets Official Input On Police Shootings


For two decades, Philadelphia’s Police Advisory Commission has battled abuse by police officers but felt powerless. Despite being the official civilian oversight agency for police misconduct, it had no regular access to the department’s own investigations of shootings, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. That’s changed. Under new rules on shootings by officers, the commission’s director will have equal standing with four deputy commissioners in deciding whether or not police actions are justified. “It’s a dramatic change,” said director Kelvyn Anderson of the regulations that were made public last week and took effect last month. “We’ve been complaining all these years. Now we have access.”

The city’s police union is not on board with the changes. It has asked the state labor board to overturn the new regulations, and a hearing is set for January. Most of the changes emerged after a U.S. Department of Justice report that criticized the way Philadelphia police use lethal force. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey requested the inquiry after police-involved shootings spiked in 2012, when police shot 58 people,. The changes include naming officers who shoot civilians within three days of the incident, and allowing officers to review their body camera videos before they tell investigators why they fired their weapons. In March, DOJ listed 48 concerns about Philadelphia policing, “the most notable being the need for the department to fully cooperate with the Police Advisory Commission.”

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