Reporters Find Barriers to Filing Police Complaints in Philadelphia


Getting your hands on a police complaint form in Philadelphia isn’t always as easy as it’s supposed to be, says the city’s Daily News. A spot-check by the paper found that officers at some police-district headquarters pressure complainants for personal information regarding the complaint, provide misinformation or even deny them the form needed to file a complaint. Supervisors at five police districts refused to allow the complainant to remain anonymous — which is against the Police Department’s policy — and wouldn’t supply the form to reporters who posed as complainants.

An additional 11 of the city’s 21 police districts did not follow department policies for filing complaints. Problems included creating a hostile environment for complainants, and neglecting to inform them of the procedure and locations to file a complaint. Reporters visited every police district and politely requested a form to file a complaint against a police officer. All the reporters requested anonymity and said they would rather not discuss the nature of the complaint. Five districts followed procedures perfectly, and officers at some of the districts that didn’t follow all directives were courteous or even friendly. But in all, 12 districts asked for an ID, an action criticized by the civilian Police Advisory Commission.

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