Police Accountability: An Action Guide for Responding to "Infernal Affairs"
Yesterday, Philadelphia Weekly and City and State PA released an informative article analyzing the rates of civilian complaints against a small minority of Philadelphia Police Department officers. In the article, the reporters outline the difficulties in parsing together the data and the efforts that the reporters went to to get the full list of data. The article is a riveting insight into the sad state of police accountability in Philadelphia.
As the people holding down the fort with the #OccupyICE #EndStopAndFrisk have pointed out, the kinds of policing actions described in the article are similar to the reports of ICE raids in Philadelphia. It is important to remember that these are all agencies upholding similar laws and attitudes that are rooted in racist ideas and specifically targeting and criminalizing minority communities.
We would like to share, as an addendum to the great reporting from Max Marin and Ryan Briggs, some resources for people who are interested in working towards accountability and advocacy.
Philly: A Police Accountability Primer
“Today, not even the Police Advisory Commission, a civilian board established by the Mayor’s Office to independently investigated complaints against officers, has access to un-redacted complaint records, and public defenders are forced to subpoena individual records. Moreover, records relating to investigations launched by Internal Affairs itself have never been made public.”
The following is a collection of articles and data on police accountability in Philly and lack there of. We encourage every citizen of Philadelphia to go through this list of articles and databases about the levels of misconduct in policing in Philadelphia.
Anything we should add here? Shoot us an email to share it out.
Many of the groups listed are headed by the members of the targeted communities, and all of them are doing excellent grassroots level work to support these communities. Think we should add you? Let us know.
Human Rights Coalition is fighting prison abuse
PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition brought an elite team together to shut down the Berks County family detention facility.
Amistad Law Project is a public interest law firm/policy advocacy and organizing project working against mass incarceration.
Books through Bars provides prisoner resources.
Philly Community Bail Fund: Organizing to end cash bail and posting bail for those who can't afford it.
Coalition for a Just D.A. It's not enough we got our candidate in as the DA- now we need to hold him accountable.
[This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have any resources you'd like us to add on this list, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
i. Quick References
ii. Problem Cops
iii. For-Profit Policing
iv. Police Union Contracts
v. City Budget & Expensive Overtime
vi. Block Party Bans
vii. Stop and Frisk
viii. Murder Clearance Rates
ix. Cops and Residency Requirements
i. Quick References.
Complaints Against the PPD, Map (Azavea)
Full Database of Civilian Complaints (Nolen/Philly Declaration)
PPD Crime Clearance Rate, Including Murder (Kaste/NPR)
Map of Police Bans on Block Parties (Terruso/Philly.com)
Stop and Frisk & Vehicle Stops, Map (Philly Open Data)
ii. Problem Cops
Our Dysfunctional Civilian Police Complaint Program (Max Marin & Ryan Briggs) – The precursor to "Infernal Affairs”, this article outlines the general ineffectiveness of Philly's Civilian Police Complain program.
Map of complaints against the PPD (Dan Ford)
Infernal Affairs (Ryan Briggs & Max Marin) – The basis for this primer, “Infernal Affairs” describes ten officers who have repeatedly escaped the repercussions of their misconduct. If you didn't click on the article above, do it now!
Krasner's “Problem Cops” (Philly.com) – The D.A.’s office has been trying to keep tabs on officers who are not reliable witnesses or who seem connected to too many misconduct cases.
Not-so-public Public Hearings for Problem Cops (Shealyn Kilroy) – On the mismanagement of disciplinary cases against police. They are only technically public when they result from civilian complaints, but its dates and times are not made public beforehand, and the cases are meant as ‘informal hearings’.
The Case against Ryan Pownall (Max Marin) – Larry Krasner begins prosecution against Ryan Pownall, who in 2017 shot David Jones dead. Pownall had found a firearm in Jones’s possession, but Jones had done nothing to threaten the officer.
2017 update on Complaints Against Police Database (Austin Nolen) – On Mayor Kenney’s executive order to allow access to records of civil complaints against officers via a database maintained by the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division. This executive order also created severe restrictions on public access to the identities of offending officers.
iii. For-Profit Policing
Civil forfeiture and ‘equitable sharing’ (German Lopez) – In certain states, loopholes between local and federal regulations allow police departments to 1) seize people’s property without charging them with a crime, 2) absorb up to 80% of the value of seized property to 3) fund the police departments that seize them.
Philly as ground zero for civil forfeiture (Rich Zeoli) – The senior attorney for the Institute of Justice calls Philly out as one of the worst-offending police departments to fun itself via seized property.
Philadelphia PD’s civil forfeiture banks accounts (Max Martin and Ryan Briggs) – Right-to-know records reveals bank accounts used to store civil forfeiture proceeds and its spending for oftentimes personal expenses.
City offers to stop funding PD with seized assets (Robert Moran) – Under pressure from a 2014 class-action lawsuit, Philadelphia offers to end the practice of equitable sharing of civil forfeiture.
Philly slows down civil forfeiture (Brentin Mock) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions endorses the practice of equitable sharing from civil forfeiture. However, Philadelphia filed an injunction against itself to stop profiting off confiscated property.
Larry Krasner’s strategy for fairer Philly (Dann Cuellar) – Larry Krasner, Philly’s new District Attorney, outlines changes he plans to make for Philadelphia courts—among them, the use of civil forfeiture when there is no crime conviction.
‘Policing for Profit’ in Philadelphia Comes to an End (Brentin Mock) - “Under a new consent decree agreement… police and prosecutors can only seize people’s assets under a very limited set of circumstances— mainly if they can prove that it is evidence for a major criminal case—but those seized assets cannot be used to pay for police salaries or expenses. Also under the new agreement, the victims of past civil asset forfeiture abuse are entitled to reparations.”
Civil asset forfeiture reform: Don’t expect Philly DA and police to stop seizing money anytime soon (Max Marin) - Marin lays out the results and flaws in the City’s Civil Forfeiture reform, highlighting weak limits on seizures, and the lack of any strict legal limits on the city taking assets from un-convicted individuals.
iv. City Budget & Expensive Overtime
Cop overtime costs millions (Claudia Vargas & Chris Palmer) – Cops testifying or waiting to testify in court are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime testifying pay cost $12 million alone in the first seven months of the 2018 fiscal year.
2019 Police Budget Increase and Personnel Expansion (2019 City Budget) - From the City Budget: “To reach and maintain a sworn strength of 6,525 in the Police Department, as well as pay for cost increases related to the Federation of Police labor award, the Police Department’s budget grows by over $18 million from the FY18 estimate. “
v. Police Union Contracts
City and police union agree to $245 M contract (Chris Palmer and Claudia Vargas) – In 2017, Police and the city negotiated a new contract, which in combination with two other contracts at the time, were $45 million over budget in its 5-year fiscal plan.
Pay raises and overtime controls in new contracts (Dana DiFilippo) – The new 2017 contract included a total of 10.5% raise, as well as special event scheduling measures to curb spikes in overtime costs. Further increases to pensions were also parts of the deal.
New contract doesn’t improve police disicipline (Max Marin) – The 2017 contract did not implement disciplinary measures to stop police misconduct. Its stipulations make it very easy to rehire abusive cops.
Campaign Zero: Contracts – How to remove unfair protections that favor police misconduct.
vi. Block Parties
Police Ban 922 Streets from Block Parties (Julia Terruso) – The Philadelphia PD will automatically deny block parties to streets that are on their ban list. Their bans lists are heavily concentrated in
New Restrictive Block Party Rules (Colt Shaw) - As of summer 2018, all of your block parties have to be pre-approved (or denied) by the cops before they can be approved by the city.
Police-Pre-approval Ended for Block Parties (Michaela Winburg) - After only a few months, the city ends its’ policy of putting cops on the front end of the block party approval process.
vii. Stop and Frisk
Black neighborhoods see more stop-and-frisk (Samantha Melamed)– Neighborhoods that are mostly black have 70 percent more frisks than neighborhoods that aren’t. Despite the fact that bias training attempts to reduce police racism, stop-and-frisk still targets neighborhoods by whether or not mostly black people live there.
Stop-and-frisk goes down, but still too high (Bobby Allyn) – Though the counts of stop-and-frisk may have gone down, about one in five stops are still unconstitutional. We should be trying to stop
Why stop-and-frisk might not really be decreasing (Anna Orso) – Police have changed how they report stop-and-frisk, and it may only look like it’s gotten better, when it’s really only reducing the number of stop-and-frisks that ‘count’.
Limited progress on stop-and-frisk (ACLU Pennsylvania)
Remnants of stop-and-frisk in New York (Mike Bostock & Ford Fessenden) – Looking at New York’s ban. Even though a federal judge ruled stop-and-frisk unconstitutional in 2013, the practice did not immediately go away. However, crime rate did drop as stop-and-frisk was dialed back.
viii. Murder Clearance Rate
Philly's Increasingly Unsolved Murders (Max Marin) – Philly’s unusually low homicide clearance rate (investigations that lead to arrests) in the years leading up to 2017.
More than Half Philly Murders Go Unsolved (Chris Palmer) – Recent requirements in witness treatment may have caused the murder clearance rate to drop, despite the fact that other cities with the same standards maintain a high clearance rate.
How to Improve the Murder Clearance Rate in U.S. Cities (Anthony Williams) – increasing detectives, improving access to forensic services, raising hiring standards for leadership, and combating witness intimidation will increase the number of homicide cases that are solved.
How Many Crimes Do Your Police Clear? (Martin Kaste) - FBI database that allows you to compare clearance rate statistics between different jurisdictions. There are discrepancies regarding how data is submitted to the FBI; reader beware.
ix. Cops and Residency Requirements
Why cops might live where they live (David Hilbert) – Oak Lane and Wynnefield, majority black neighborhoods, are the places in Philly with the highest police residency. These neighborhoods are very homogeneously middle class.
Philly relaxes residence requirements (Claudia Vargas & Chris Palmer) – Philly no longer required cops to live within city limits after five years of becoming a full-fledged officer. As of 2017, at least 15% of the police force has taken the opportunity to do so.