U.S. Justice Department Reviewing Philadelphia Police Use of Force


With shootings by Philadelphia police rising to the highest level in over a decade, Commissioner Charles Ramsey has asked the Department of Justice to review the department’s use of deadly force, reports Philly.com, which had documented a 50-percent increase in the number of police shootings in 2012. Police in Philadelphia shot 52 suspects last year. Of those, 15 people died. In 2011, police wounded or killed 35 people.

“When you have as many as we’ve had, it gets people wondering if they were all justified,” Ramsey said. He said the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division agreed on the review, which will be done by the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and will include an analysis of policies, procedures, training and tactics. DOJ conducted a comparable review in Las Vegas, which prompted a major policy overhaul. Las Vegas police are now advised to place minimal reliance upon the use of force; focus on de-escalating dangerous situations; and be willing to retreat from erratic subjects. The rise in shootings by Philadelphia police came as the violent crime rate continued to plummet and assaults on police officers fell.

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