It has been more than 10 days since protests started in Philadelphia following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. In this time, we have seen and heard the cries of thousands of Philadelphians demanding change and proclaiming a simple but powerful truth: Black Lives Matter.

I stand with those who have taken to the streets of Philadelphia and declared that it is time to take action.

This has been a humbling experience for me and members of my administration. Many of us have realized that, as progressive and inclusive as we think we are, we still have a lot to learn. I am grateful to our colleagues, especially Black men and women, who called us out when we made mistakes, pushed us to do better, and urged us to act now.

We now will focus on reconciliation, on understanding, on listening—and on taking action. We will embark on a path toward real change in Philadelphia, and hopefully across America. We will seize this moment, and we will move quickly, because too many lives are being lost.

This moment is a beginning.

New actions

Our administration, after discussions with the City’s new Reconciliation Steering Committee, City Council, the Police Advisory Commission, and the Police Reform Working Group, commits to the following actions:

  • President Obama’s pledge: Commissioner Outlaw and I have accepted President Obama’s challenge to review police use-of-force policies in Philadelphia. This will include engaging our communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in the review; reporting the findings of our review to the public and seeking feedback; and reforming our police use of force policies.
  • Immediate updates to use-of-force policies: Last week in an internal memo, Commissioner Outlaw made clear her requirements around current use of force protocols and laid out a critical change—requiring all uses of force to be reported via Police Radio. She will go further with detailed guidance regarding the circumstances under which firearms may and should be unholstered or pointed, and mandates for the reporting of such actions. She will expand the current Use of Force protocol, which explicitly prohibits chokeholds, to also explicitly prohibit sitting or kneeling on a person’s neck, face, or head.
  • Eliminate proposed increase to Philadelphia Police Department budget: Our administration will work with City Council to reduce the Police Department budget to FY20 funding levels.
  • Create a permanent civilian Police Oversight Commission: The City will support the creation of an Independent Police Oversight Commission placed in the Home Rule Charter, which will be empowered to conduct contemporaneous, independent review of civilian complaints and use-of-force incidents. We will discuss specifics of the Commission with City Council.
  • Increased transparency of complaints made against police officers: The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) will expand reporting of civilian complaints and internal investigations to include the posting of quarterly complaints against police, including unique anonymized officer identification numbers, districts, type of complaint, full text of complaint, complaint disposition, and demographic information of the complainant. The PPD will establish specific criteria for the designation of an investigation as internal or external. The PPD will also establish systemic tracking and reporting of incidents in which officers witness inappropriate or excessive force by another officer.
  • New staff positions focused on misconduct, brutality, equity and other relevant issues: The City will create a Deputy Inspector General focused on deterring, detecting, preventing, and eradicating waste, fraud, and abuse within law enforcement agencies. The Deputy Inspector General will also further review policies and practices of those agencies. Additionally, Commissioner Outlaw is working to build out her leadership team within the Department, and has committed to hiring an Equity Manager who will be charged to review all policies and practices of the Department through an equity lens. The Equity Manager will also assist with increasing diversity of new hires. This person will report directly to the Commissioner.
  • Transparency regarding Internal Affairs investigations and status of police misconduct: The Police Department will issue a quarterly report on Internal Affairs activity that includes the number of complaints filed, the types of complaints, and the current status of those complaints. The City will continue working with advocates and government leaders to examine other ways to increase transparency around Internal Affairs. The Police Commissioner is reviewing all protocols related to the disciplinary process and the Police Board of Inquiry.
  • Establishing an early warning system for detecting problematic officer behavior: Commissioner Outlaw is reviewing technology solutions to implement a system to track indicators for serious misconduct and to enable non-disciplinary remedial action.
  • Changes related to collective bargaining: As part of the next Act 111 arbitration with the FOP Lodge 5, the City intends to seek several changes in negotiations with the FOP, including but not limited to:
    • Re-establish residency requirements for officers going forward.
    • Remove any limitations on the Commissioner’s authority to transfer officers at her discretion, including removal of any required input by the FOP.
    • Overhaul Philadelphia Police Department Disciplinary code.
    • Revise aspects of the grievance arbitration process for police discipline, including but not limited to the process for selection of arbitrators.
    • Eliminate disciplinary record expungements and make all prior records available for consideration during Police Board of Inquiry investigations.
    • Inclusion of community members and outside experts on the Police Board of Inquiry.
    • Prior to negotiations, the PPD would commission an outside review of the PPD Code of Conduct to inform the collective bargaining process.
  • Making the collective bargaining process more transparent: The Administration commits to Council and community input. The City will add a public comment period outlining its goals and permitting public comment prior to submitting proposals to the FOP, prior to finalizing a new contract. This will include a public forum where City residents can openly speak. The City is committed to soliciting and sharing our collective bargaining requests with relevant stakeholders and the general public before the start of the negotiating or state Act 111 arbitration process.
  • Increasing the Department’s diversity: The Commissioner will develop a plan to enhance the PPD’s racial and geographic recruitment diversity, including specific goals. She will commit to reporting on progress toward those goals.
  • Seeking reforms to State legislation: Many aspects of law enforcement and local labor negotiations are dictated by State law. The City would support a number of reforms by the State, regardless of whether those reforms are subject to bargaining.
    • Overhauling Act 111 and the grievance arbitration process, including but not limited to making sure that police officers lawfully terminated by the Commissioner remain off the force and to contain other safeguards against irrational, binding decisions by arbitrators.
    • Legislation making the interest arbitration process more transparent.
    • Legislation outlawing the police chokehold or using pressure to airways to detain citizens. (The use of chokeholds is already disallowed under PPD use of force policies.)
    • Legislation providing additional criminal penalties for criminal use of deadly force by police officers.
    • Legislation requiring mandatory drug testing after an officer-involved shooting.
    • Legislation improving access to police video footage requiring all non-body camera police video to be subject to the Right to Know Law. The City would support such legislation consistent with our current policy and practice. Video that is part of an active investigation should be released at the Department’s discretion.
    • Legislation creating a state oversight board to professionally certify, train, and provide continual education to police officers; give this oversight board disciplinary power and provide the public with a venue where behavioral misconduct concerns will be addressed.
    • Legislation establishing/requiring an independent review process where police kill or seriously injure civilians.
      Legislation requiring law enforcement officers to be regularly evaluated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    • Legislation creating a confidential database within the state Attorney General’s office to track officer complaints that law enforcement agencies can search to find potential red flags before hiring an officer who has previously separated from another law enforcement agency.
  • Reforms within the Governor’s authority: The City would support a number of changes that are within the Governor’s authority.
    • Create a Deputy State Inspector General focused on deterring, detecting, preventing, and eradicating misconduct, brutality, waste, fraud, and abuse within law enforcement agencies.
    • Establish a civil unrest damage recovery fund.
    • Require the PA State Police to develop a publicly available database with the capability to receive, store, tabulate, and analyze the data sets required to be documented by all law enforcement agencies including data about police misconduct.

Building on previous work

Since 2016, our administration made some progress. We look forward to building on these efforts.

  • The Philadelphia Police Department has implemented proactive measures to address pedestrian stops (also called “stop and frisk”) and officer-involved shootings:
    • 92 percent decrease in pedestrian stops lacking reasonable suspicion
    • 50 percent decrease in officer-involved shooting incidents
  • We’ve dramatically expanded implicit bias and anti-racism training throughout the Department, as well as the use of body worn cameras.
  • The Police Department has implemented a progressive discipline system for officers who conduct unconstitutional stops and frisks. In addition, the Police Department continues to work under the jurisdiction of a federal court to address unlawful stops and frisks, including racial disparities.

Those who have spoken out on the streets of Philadelphia have made clear that the police reforms we’ve enacted over the last four years are not nearly enough. So, while we’ve been committed to reform, we realize now that there is much more to do to create real, lasting change.

The removal of the Rizzo statue last week was a small, symbolic step on the road to healing our city. The following day, we announced a steering committee to lead our reconciliation process.

We will continue to assess more of the demands that have been made by protesters, elected officials, community organizations, and others.