City Provides 120-Day Update on Pathways to Reform, Transformation and Reconciliation
PHILADELPHIA — After reaching 120 days since its formation, Mayor Jim Kenney and other City officials today gave an update on the City’s pathways to reform, transform and reconciliation. The effort, supported by a diverse Steering Committee, was initiated in June as part of the City’s response to widespread activism around police brutality and race-based disparities across the city and country. The Committee, with continued progress, has worked to guide meaningful police reform, reimagine public safety, and advance racial justice.
“Over the last four months, the profound dialogue, sentiments and expertise of the Steering Committee have brought valuable insights that will push our city forward as it reckons with the legacies of systemic racism,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Their honest feedback, shared discourse and perseverance helped us to move toward strategic actions to address the pre-existing challenges and inequities in Philadelphia.”
Through short-term, mid-term, and long-term objectives, the Committee has a commitment to building a more equitable future for all Philadelphians. The work is managed by senior City staff who support the planning and implementation of the Committee’s initiatives and strategies, and by a diverse group of civic, business and faith leaders. To date, the Steering Committee has met 11 times, focusing their work on four key priorities: public safety, economic recovery, community engagement, and health.
“We have continued to listen to our city’s diverse communities and acknowledge their suffering and pain. We are committed to making real changes and the Steering Committee has guided the Administration in its reform, transformation and reconciliation work. The Committee has achieved so much progress in these past four months, measurable in tangible actions to build a more equitable city for all Philadelphia residents—regardless of their race and origin,” said Cynthia Figueroa, Deputy Mayor for the Office of Children and Families.
Progress as of October 21, 2020
Police Reform and Public Safety
In a combined effort with the Committee and Police Reform Working Group, City leaders committed to immediate action on police reform and public safety. To this effect, the City has collaborated closely with the Committee to increase accountability and equity, and to implement its Police Reform Agenda.
Since the last pathways update, several developments and reforms have been made to the Philadelphia Police Department’s (PPD) policies.
- All use of force policies were reviewed against the Police Executive Research Forum report, 30 Guiding Principles on Use of Force. Edits to policy and PPD mission have been drafted by the Executive Team and are being staffed to all Commanders for additional comments or edits before final submission to Police Commissioner.
- The Use of Force policy was updated to clearly articulate that kneeling on a person’s head or neck is prohibited. This is consistent with recent legislation passed by City Council and signed by Mayor Kenney.
- The intentional pointing of a gun at an individual is now considered a Use of Force and must be recorded using the Departmental Use of Force form.
- PPD banned the use of no-knock warrants.
- PPD was revised to ensure that exculpatory information (information that would contradict a person’s involvement in a crime) is included in all search and arrest warrant affidavits submitted to magistrates for approval.
- PPD is working collaboratively with the Police Advisory Commission to evaluate the Police Board of Inquiry (PBI), to review its disciplinary process. The PAC-PPD-PBI Action Plan was signed in August 2020.
- PPD is amending the SWAT less-than-lethal standard operating procedures (SOPs) to include references to the sanctity of life and rights of peaceful protestors, consistent with overall Departmental policy. The Philadelphia Law Department has been included in reviewing these amendments.
- PPD has begun the process of implementing a Co-responder/Alternate response model with the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities by embedding a mental health clinician into Police Radio 9-1-1. This first step began on September 28, 2020.
- PPD has started the hiring process and is actively recruiting for a Diversity and Inclusion Officer focused on equity and organizational excellence. The hiring process is expected to be completed in November 2020.
- PPD will train its personnel—both officers and non-sworn—on Implicit Bias, with Dr. Marks of the NITRE Center, starting the training on October 28, 2020, and will complete the entire training in the Fall of 2021.
- PPD has agreed to be an early adopter of the Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Program and will train all sworn personnel on how to actively and effectively intervene and de-escalate a situation to build a culture that prevents harm. PPD currently has four Academy instructors trained through the national ABLE ‘Train-the-trainer” session that began in September 2020.
In addition to recent updates on the Philadelphia Police Department’s use-of-force policies, the City has focused on reforms in diversity, transparency, budgeting, collective bargaining, and city and state-level legislation.
“Uniting our work for the common goal to increase community safety is paramount as we continue to achieve our internal and external reform efforts,” said Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “The meaningful strides we have made over these past four months, reflect the desires of our community and shared goal of transparency. We regard these police reform efforts with urgency to increase and enhance the availability of resources for my officers, in order to best serve the Philadelphia community.”
The City’s recent pathways to reform, transform and reconciliation work also includes economic recovery efforts. These efforts, in collaboration with the Inclusive Economy subcommittee, prioritize reviewing the City’s budget, investing in historically-disadvantaged communities, and supporting small businesses.
In September, the City released Respond Restart Recharge Reimagine: An Equitable and Inclusive Economic Recovery for Philadelphia. The plan included three key projects related to addressing historic disparities and inclusive economic recovery—the Regional Recharge and Recovery Taskforce, the Equitable Entrepreneurship Assessment and Strategy, and the Workforce Respond and Recharge Plan. The City also released a $1 million Call For Ideas, seeking workforce innovations to help unemployed and underemployed Philadelphians prepare for and connect to sustainable, living wage careers.
“As the City continues working to rectify deep-seated, structural racism that has resulted in stark economic racial disparities, it is critical that we do so holistically,” said Sylvie Gallier Howard, Acting Commerce Director. “From an economic standpoint, that means increasing investment in historically disadvantaged communities, supporting the growth of small businesses owned by people of color, and identifying solutions to address the barriers that prevent Philadelphians—particularly Black and brown residents—from accessing family-sustaining career opportunities. These are actions that, in both the long- and short-term, will help foster inclusive, equitable economic recovery in Philadelphia.”
Over the summer, the City, in partnership with The Merchants Fund, distributed more than $1.5 million in grants to 186 businesses as part of the City’s Restore and Reopen program. The program provided grants to small, independently-owned businesses that suffered property damage, vandalism, or inventory losses during the recent civil unrest—with a focus on those in historically disadvantaged communities. More information can be found in this recent report.
City offices and local nonprofits have worked together to thoughtfully engage with the community in addressing actions around reconciliation, public safety, and police reform. On September 2, the City’s Millennial Advisory Committee hosted a virtual town hall pertaining to police reform and racial justice. The Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity also held a virtual panel on September 14 focused on racial healing, reform and reconciliation. On October 8, the Office of Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs hosted the first session of “Law, Order, & God,” a multi-part engagement focusing on faith and public safety with members of Vine Memorial Baptist Church. The series will continue in November. Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs will repeat the series with other congregations in early 2021.
The Community Engagement subcommittee will partner with City offices and local organizations to support the Philadelphia Police Department in ensuring community engagement and education around completed policies. With a goal of strengthening relationships with communities through transparency and accountability, the PPD is planning to engage residents using surveys, town halls and other public outreach.
In addition, the subcommittee is in the process of supporting robust engagement for a public landmark and monument review with the City’s Chief Cultural Officer.
“Throughout our work to address social injustices and race-based disparities, engaging thoughtfully with our communities is a necessary step in regaining trust, increasing accountability, and advancing a more equitable future for all Philadelphia residents,” said Ajeenah Amir, Director of the Office of Public Engagement. “Over the last four months, the City has taken concrete steps in connecting with residents, stakeholders, and local organizations to listen and take meaningful action. In recognition of this sustained work that goes into community healing, The City of Philadelphia is committed to continuing this dialogue in order to ensure that community voices are heard.”
In late July, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) released an interim plan to address the racial inequities posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The plan is divided into eight areas of concern, and each section acknowledges existing disparities in the community, highlights what the City and Department of Public Health are currently doing to address those disparities, and plans for further addressing them.
“The Coronavirus Interim Racial Equity Plan summarizes what the Philadelphia Department of Public Health knows about racial and ethnic inequities and COVID-19, and most importantly, what we are doing and planning to do in order to reduce those disparities that have been affecting Black and Brown communities for centuries,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, Philadelphia’s Health Commissioner. “We must ensure that we take a racial equity lens to avoid further exacerbating disparities and to help build trust with communities.”
Additionally, PDPH has convened a Vaccine Advisory Committee in order to implement intentional strategies to plan for a COVID-19 vaccine distribution with an equity lens.
Path to Progress
Since the beginning of its formation, the Steering Committee has committed to enact a meaningful transformation of the local government, reimagine public safety, and advance racial justice in Philadelphia. The Path to Progress timeline, outlines major developments, events and reforms achieved to date. This tool is available online for residents who want to learn more about the progress on reform, transformation and reconciliation work.
To receive updates from the Steering Committee and the Pathways to Reform, Transform, and Reconciliation work, members of the public can sign up here. More information also is available at phila.gov/programs/philadelphia-reforms.