Mayor Kenney and Police Commissioner Outlaw Announce Plans for Independent After-Action Investigation of City’s Response to Recent Protests
City will Engage an Independent Consultant to Conduct the Examination

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw today announced plans to engage an independent consultant to conduct a comprehensive examination of the City’s response to recent protests and other activities, which will include investigations in the Philadelphia Police Department’s use of force.

The scope of services for the independent consultant is presently being drafted, and the City will issue a request for proposals when it is finalized. It is anticipated that the scope of services will ask the independent consultant, among other things, to:

  • Analyze relevant Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) incident, use-of-force, and other internal or investigative reports and data from May 29 through June 15, 2020 (or later) regarding interactions with persons engaging in protest and other activities to determine if the Department’s actions were in accordance with PPD policies and procedures, as well as current police best practices.
  • Collect and review body-worn camera footage, news and social media accounts, stationary video, audio recordings, photographs, directives, standard operating procedures, and other documents in the PPD’s possession.
  • Interview selected participants and/or eyewitnesses to police activities.
  • Evaluate the PPD’s application of force during protests and any unrelated criminal activity, including whether the use of less than lethal munitions was consistent with policy or otherwise appropriate.
  • Assess whether additional limitations or categorical prohibitions are needed on certain types of force.
  • Collect and review factual evidence from other law enforcement agencies assisting the PPD in the field, including the Pennsylvania State Police.
  • Analyze the PPD’s overall tactical response to peaceful protests and any separate criminal activity, including the deployment of personnel, response times, and geographic dispersal.
  • Provide monthly reports to the Inspector General’s Office and the City Solicitor’s Office during the contract period. These reports will focus on preliminary findings and the progress of the development of the investigation.
  • Provide a written report of the findings and recommendations to improve the PPD’s protocols and policies for use of force. The final report, as well as updates on preliminary findings, will be made public.

The independent consultant could be one organization or multiple organizations with distinct expertise. The timeline for completion of the project will be announced after the City engages the independent consultant(s) and agrees upon the amount of time needed for meeting the City’s expectations. The budget for this project has not yet been determined.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw:
“As our city and our country continue to mourn and protest the death of George Floyd, and the tragic loss of so many other Black and Brown lives cut tragically short, police departments must respond immediately to the public’s calls for meaningful police reform. Our commitment to reform must also include an assessment of how police responded to the very protests that called for change. While I’ve witnessed many officers respond bravely and with compassion, I have also witnessed inappropriate use of force and other conduct that I do not condone—nor will I allow to continue by those who serve the Philadelphia Police Department.

“There are also tactical and operational lessons that we can learn through organized retrospection. For these reasons and more, I am engaging the assistance of an independent consultant with relevant expertise to conduct a wide-ranging After-Action Investigation. This investigation will examine the PPD’s response over the past two weeks to protest and other activity by gathering significant factual evidence and assessing our compliance with pertinent policies, trainings, use-of-force protocols, and best practices—all with an eye toward reforming and strengthening our Department.

“To increase transparency, I pledge to make a final, comprehensive report public, and provide updates on preliminary findings by the independent consultant and the PPD as the process moves forward.

“Since February, I have welcomed the incredible opportunity to lead the Philadelphia Police Department, because I wanted to restore trust with the communities we serve and bring much-needed reforms and accountability to the Department. That sentiment has not wavered, and I look forward to working with all Philadelphians to make it a reality.”

Mayor Jim Kenney:
“I applaud Commissioner Outlaw for her courage and discernment to utilize the events of the past few weeks as an opportunity to improve how the Police Department responds to protest activity and better serve the residents of Philadelphia. We absolutely must do better to build trust with our communities, and our response to the recent demonstrations further highlighted the amount of work we have before us.

“It saddens me that some of our residents believe City and PPD leadership supported certain use of force, such as tear gas, against peaceful protesters. I want them to know that is not true. The PPD was permitted to use certain measures when absolutely necessary in violent situations—if and only if, lesser methods did not stop the violent behavior. We did not, and would never, pre-authorize or give police officers free rein to use any type of force against peaceful protesters exercising their constitutional rights.

“If we discover that any officers used force inappropriately or without proper authorization, we will deal with it swiftly and accordingly. I have also asked the PPD to revise policies to further specify appropriate limitations on the use of less than lethal munitions, such as tear gas.

“This independent evaluation will help us get to the bottom of the varying accounts of what happened in situations where officers used force—including the incident on I-676 and looting incidents—and enable us to make necessary policy and protocol changes, such as additional limitations or prohibitions on certain types of force. I am also hopeful that this independent analysis will further inform our continued efforts to re-imagine public safety in the city of Philadelphia.”