Coalition: Cop Report Ignores Abuse

Posted: March 24, 1987

A coalition of community and civil rights groups has criticized the Police Study Task Force report for touching too lightly on the problem of police abuse of citizens, and urged that the city inspector general's office be authorized to investigate charges against the police.

David Kairys, spokesman for the Coalition for Police Accountability, said yesterday that current procedures for dealing with police abuse are "totally inadequate," and that the subject was barely touched on in the March 11 report that recommended extensive changes in the way the police deal with the community.

Kairys said the major themes of the report, "the need to decentralize, the (civilian) advisory board, the opening up of management, the use of civilians, all of these are discussed as if police abuse or misconduct had nothing to do with these things."

The Task Force report included a chapter titled "Police Governance and Accountability," which includes recommendations concerning police abuse. However, the coalition maintained, the section is "sparse."

The coalition has sent Police Commissioner Kevin M. Tucker a list of recommendations it believes will deal better with police abuse.

It suggests the city give the inspector general's office the authority and staffing to investigate allegations of police abuse and misconduct, begin a detailed procedure for investigating complaints and making the findings public.

"We think that there does have to be a police-community relationship, that the police and community don't have to be at odds. But the prerequisite for that is going to be a stop to police misconduct and a real procedure, hopefully outside of the police department, for civilians to get relief when they are abused by police officers. The present procedures are totally in inadequate," Kairys said.

Tucker yesterday said he believes the department's internal investigation process is adequate. "I have confidence that investigations can be conducted within this department in a fair and honest manner," he said.

"During the past year I have revised directives relating to firearms, use of nightsticks and batons, and have taken appropriate disciplinary action where warranted. I fired 39 people last year," Tucker said.

The coalition also called for increased minority hiring, and a program designed to deal with police job-related stress.

Kairys said that while these issues were "touched on," in the 197-page report, they "were not really focused on. There's no recommendations about either of those areas."

The coalition also found fault with the civilian committee appointed by Tucker to oversee the implementations of the report's 96 recommendations for reform in the Police Department.

According to the coalition, the committee, made up of local business and community leaders, relies on "distingished or prominent people . . . There are many people in Philadelphia who are quite experienced and have expertise and who are certainly distinguished, by my light, who know a lot more about police problems in Philadelphia than the people included on that committee," Kairys said.

Tucker said, "I appreciate the group that volunteered to serve. They are fair-minded, honest people and I have every confidence that they will do an outstanding job."

The report was produced by a panel of 14 local and national law enforcement experts, local business and community representatives that studied the police department for 11 months.

The panel concluded that the department was undertrained, under-equipped, unmanaged and unaccountable, and it called for a new form of policing that is based on cooperation between the department and the community.

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