Philadelphia, March 25, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed an Executive Order establishing an independent civilian oversight board for the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) in response to the release of a Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) report on the Department’s use of force policies on Monday. The Police Department Community Oversight Board will review the report’s recommendation, develop an approach and timeline for implementation, and provide appropriate oversight to ensure the changes are adopted.
“As with all City departments and agencies, our Administration strives to act with integrity and transparency,” said Mayor Nutter. “The review and implementation of recommendations in the DOJ COPS report will be no different. This issue is too important to ignore, we are talking about police officers injuring or killing people whom they are sworn to protect. We all know the very real dangers our brave men and women in blue face every day, and we were tragically reminded of this fact earlier this month with the death of Officer Robert Wilson III, but accountability and partnership with the community begins with us – the people who swore an oath to serve this great city.”
The new community oversight board will function similarly to previous oversight boards established by the Administration to oversee systemic changes within City departments, including the Community Oversight Board for the Department of Human Services and the Special Independent Advisory Commission for the Department of Licenses & Inspections. The Police Department oversight board will be an independent committee composed of community stakeholders, experts in the field of law enforcement and public safety professionals (not affiliated with the PPD) and will work in conjunction with Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey to ensure that implementation of the DOJ COPS report recommendations is attainable and on schedule.
Commissioner Ramsey commissioned the report from the Department of Justice in 2013. Since then, the PPD has begun making important reform within the Department in advance of receiving the DOJ COPS report. In an effort to be more transparent, the Department posts on its website incident summaries of all officer-involved shooting and subsequent investigation outcomes date back to 2007. The Department has also revised recruit and in-service training regarding de-escalating confrontations and the use of firearms, and it expects to further revise this training with the guidance of the DOJ COPS report and oversight board. Finally, Mayor Nutter’s FY16 proposed budget includes funding for more alternative and preventative equipment like Electronic Control Weapons (tasers), body cameras to be worn by officers and ammunition to be used during additional firearms training for in-service officers and recruits.