Judge asks officer memorial be removed

February 20, 2009 11:51:43 AM PST
There is outrage in the 35th police district after a judge asked that a memorial to a fallen police officer be taken down.Many are calling it blatant disrespect of a slain Philadelphia police officer.

The memorial is a picture Officer John Pawlowski, who was shot and killed Friday night in Olney.

According to police, on Tuesday, Judge Craig Washington called the memorial to Officer John Pawlowski inappropriate demanded it be taken down.

The courtroom in the 35th District also serves as a roll call room.

Police say the captain denied the judges request, but the judge didn't listen.

"He came in, right after the meeting with the captain and put the picture face down," said Officer Blanca Rodriguez. "To me, that was an insult."

After the judge left, members of the Fraternal Order of Police ripped down Judge Washington's reserved parking sign from the lot.

"This is the room Officer Pawlowski stood for roll call every day, every tour of duty," said Officer Elisa Diaz. "This is where we were as a family. It's disrespectful to him, it's disrespectful to his family, it's disrespectful to us as a police department."

"There's a memorial in every courtroom in every police station and in every roll call room in the city of Philadelphia," said FOP President John McNesby. "If they think it's that inappropriate, then they ought to move their court downtown to where it should be instead of our police stations."

The Fraternal Order of Police wants Judge Washington removed from the bench pending an investigation of what amounts to vandalism of a police facility.

Officers have not been shy voicing their opinions on what they call "too-lenient" sentences on career criminals like Rasheed Scrugs, who allegedly shot and killed Officer Pawlowski.

Police tell Action News that Judge Washington wanted the picture removed so he could remain impartial. Action News was unable to get ahold of Judge Washington for a direct comment.

President Judge Marsha Neifield said, in a statement:

"Although the hearings are held at the police station, they must be treated like hearings held in any other official courtroom. Photographs are not permitted directly on the bench... The courtroom must avoid any appearance of bias."

A funeral for Officer Pawlowski is set for Friday. For details, CLICK HERE.

Scrugs was formally arraigned Tuesday in his bed at Einstein Hospital, where he's recovering from gunshot wounds sustained in the shooting Friday night that killed Officer Pawlowski.

The 33-year-old Scrugs is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, robbery, and other charges.

Pawlowski is not the only officer from the 35th district to have been killed recently. Officer Chuck Cassidy was shot and killed during a robbery at a Dunkin' Donuts store back on Halloween night, 2007.

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