Philadelphia mayor, police commissioner announce review of city's protest response

Monday, June 15, 2020
Mayor, commissioner announce review of Philly's protest response
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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced a plan for an independent review of the city's response to "recent protests and other activities," t

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced a plan for an independent review of the city's response to "recent protests and other activities," they announced in a joint statement on Monday.

The review will include investigations into the use of force by Philadelphia police, including the deployment of tear gas and rubber bullets.

It will also analyze the department's tactics and preparedness as the unrest began to unfold.

The review will also include the collection of body camera footage, news reports and other videos of police activity during the looting and demonstrations.

Neither Mayor Jim Kenney nor Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw were available for comment, but in a statement the mayor said the findings will be made public.

RELATED: Mayor Kenney releases police reform agenda, eliminates budget hike

City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart announced her own review of the city's response to the unrest earlier this month.

"Why did the looting take place for so long without police presence on multiple nights and different neighborhoods in the city? Why were protesters tear gassed on 676? Did that need to happen?" she said.

Rynhart questions how independent the Mayor's review will be.

She says her concern is it's being spearheaded by the Inspector General's Office and the city solicitor.

Both report to the mayor and she's troubled the city solicitor, as part of the city's command staff, was involved in the decision-making process to use tear gas.

"So I think that it's way too interconnected to be truly independent. And that's why it's so important what my office is doing."

FOP President John McNesby blasted the newly announced independent review in a statement that read in part: "What this city truly needs is an "independent consultant" to find real leadership for a City currently controlled by cowards and frauds."

In response to the FOP statement, city spokesperson Lauren Cox said, "The Mayor and Commissioner Outlaw are taking the steps they have deemed necessary to rebuild trust with our communities and begin implementing meaningful reform. We don't find the FOP's statement to be an accurate assessment of the actions taken or helpful in this process of healing our community."

Kenney and Outlaw said they anticipate the tasks will include:

-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 consultant has yet to be selected, and a timeline and budget have not been determined.