Police call for moratorium on parole

SPRING GARDEN - September 29, 2008 McDonald was shot to death last week by a man with a violent past, who was recently released on parole. On Monday, the City Police Union called for tough steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The Fraternal Order of Police wants a full investigation of the State Parole Board's practices and standards. They want no more plea bargains for anyone charged with felony assaults on police officers. The FOP says four Philadelphia cop killings in a year is an outrage. They're calling for all out public pressure assault on judges they believe are too easy on violent criminals and the state parole board, which they say lets dangerous convicts out on parole when it is not necessary.

The FOP took out a full page ad in the Daily News Monday saying they are going to up the pressure on the judicial system to lower the boom on potential cop killers.

During a press conference, Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby said, "Our police officers are angry and they are outraged. They are outraged at the sentencing practices of the judges of the city of Philadelphia, and also the anger should be directed to the nine-member parole board."

This week's poster child is the late Daniel Giddings - the career criminal who shot and killed Officer Patrick McDonald last week. Giddings just got out of jail in August after serving 10 years of a 12-year sentence. Judge Lynne Bennet Hamlin, who sentenced him Giddings, could have given him over 40 years. Because of his misconduct in prison, the parole board could have held him 2 more years.

"We will not standby silently while our legal system, specifically our judges and our parole board, allow violent career criminals to freely roam our streets," said McNesby.

At the news conference was Officer Richard DeCoatesworth, who was shot in the face last fall by a teenager with a long criminal record. After only 18 months on the force, he sees a revolving door system.

"In my short career, I've come in contact with several individuals who I've locked up, who in my mind should have gotten several years and they're out in a couple of weeks, a couple of months, the next day," Officer DeCoatesworth said.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey added, "Let me ask you a question: How many judges have been killed this year on the streets of Philadelphia? I'll give you an answer - zero. How many parole board members have been killed this year? Zero. Yet the decisions they make impact the lives of every single one of us. And I cannot stand here and say no Philadelphia police officer has died within the last year because we're burying another one tomorrow!"

Action News received a response from C. Darnell Jones II, the President Judge of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. He says "Blaming the judiciary is not an appropriate response. The judges of the Philadelphia court system are unwavering in their commitment to justly adhere to the rule of law."

Judge Jones added that the courts have no influence on the state's nine member parole board.

Police Commissioner Ramsey is asking for as many members of the public as possible to come out after 1:00 Tuesdayafternoon and line the funeral procession route to show their support for Officer McDonald's family and the Philadelphia Police Force in general.

Gov. Ed Rendell on Monday called for a temporary halt in the early release of state prison inmates pending a review of state parole procedures.

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