Feds Rediscover Police Brutality In City of Brotherly Love...er...Beat City
The report slammed the Philadelphia Police Department for its historically flawed use of fatal force, directed primarily at non-whites, underscoring a repeated finding that Philadelphia’s Police Department has long owned one of the worst reputations of any police department in the United States.
The “persistence and regularity” of brutality and corruption in the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) indicate that “the city and its police force are failing to act to hold police accountable,” that report stated.
The almost total failure of officials in Philadelphia to hold errant police officers accountable, the report noted, solidifies a “culture of impunity” that leads to new generations of police officers learning quickly that “their leadership accepts corruption and excessive force.”
Those tough assessments of “shortcomings” within the Philadelphia Police Department are not contained in the damning report on deadly police practices in Philadelphia released on March 24th by the U.S. Justice Department. Rather, the harsh assessments of PPD failings, which would seem to merit prompt attention and reform, were in a report issued in 1998 by the organization Human Rights Watch.
The stark failure of authorities in Philadelphia –- successive police supervisors and City Hall officials, and three mayors –- to halt the police misconduct identified seventeen years ago by HRW makes the policing problems identified in the latest USJD report entitled the “Assessment of Deadly Force in the Philadelphia Police Department” all the more damning and appalling.
The latest report by the Justice Department contains 91 recommendations for reform within the PPD –- an agency that was found to have seen its officers involved in 394 shootings during a seven-year period where 81 percent of the targets were African-American men and 59 percent of the police shooters were white. Better training for police officers was one of that report’s recommendations in response to a finding that police too frequently used deadly force in inappropriate situations including deadly force against unarmed persons.
That USJD report emerged from a two-year examination of the PPD that uncovered serious “operational deficiencies” that have produced an average of one citizen shot by police per week between 2007 and 2013. Those police shootings and other questionable police conduct, the USJD report stated, contributed to “significant strife between the community” and the PPD.
Among the many examples of failures by officials to forthrightly attack police misconduct and abuse is the conduct of Philadelphia’s mayor in 1998, Ed Rendell, who prior to serving as mayor was the city's elected district attorney.