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Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Back issues
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DOJ Says Training, Rules Needed for Philly Cops

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday said inadequate training by the Philadelphia Police Department has led to a marked increase in police shootings and "significant strife" between officers and city residents.

The long-awaited report from the Justice Department caps a two-year investigation and comes slightly more than three months after the shooting death of an unarmed black man, Brandon Tate-Brown, at the hands of Philadelphia police.

The analysis was requested by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who reached out to the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in 2013, after a worrisome increase in officer-involved shootings that came at a time when violence against officers was on the decline.

The inquiry looked at the use of deadly force over a seven-year period, and resulted in the release of 48 findings and 91 recommendations.

"PPD officers do not receive regular, consistent training on the department's deadly force policy," according to the report.

Among the key findings of the report was that officers receive annual firearm training and that the policies surrounding weapons like Tasers need to be revised for greater clarity.

Philadelphia police officers do not receive "regular, consistent" training in the department's policy on deadly force, and the department does not make it easy for officers to use Tasers and similar devices, leaving them with fewer options to avoid using deadly force, the inquiry found.

"While we have the immense task of keeping our officers safe, we also have the responsibility of being as transparent as possible to our citizens," Ramsey said in a statement.

The Justice Department shared that assessment.

"The department has much work to do in the months and years ahead. Our assessment uncovered policy, training and operational deficiencies in addition to an undercurrent of significant strife between the com­munity and department," the report says.

It was issued three weeks after the DOJ's look into police procedure in Ferguson, Mo., which found systemic, intentional discrimination based on race in the city's police system and led to the resignation of city manager John Shaw.

Tate-Brown was killed in the city's Frankford neighborhood during a traffic stop. Philadelphia District Attorney declined to charge the officers involved in the shooting and maintained that Tate-Brown had been reaching for a weapon during the incident.

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