Controversial ex-cop booked

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Rochelle Bilal, a former Philadelphia cop hired by Colwyn Borough to oversee its police department, was arrested for mail theft.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Rochelle Bilal, a former Philadelphia cop hired by Colwyn Borough to oversee its police department, was arrested for mail theft.
Posted: July 23, 2013

ROCHELLE BILAL, the former Philadelphia cop who runs the black police officers' Guardian Civic League, was arrested yesterday by an officer in Delaware County's Colwyn Borough, where she had been secretly hired to oversee the police department.

Sources in Colwyn - a small community on the Southwest Philly border with an anarchic streak - say Bilal and an assistant, Wanda Davis, have been accused of intercepting mail sent to Officer Trevor Parham and another cop. Parham responded by filing theft charges against them.

"Some of the mail they were getting was already open. Some of it they were not receiving," the source said. "They kept opening it. Things were missing."

In May, Philly police raided the Colwyn police department as part of a separate investigation into the hiring of Bilal, 56, who may have violated city police rules by quietly working the side gig in the suburbs while she was still employed as a city police officer.

"Now, it's turned into a total clusterf---," a Colwyn law-enforcement source said yesterday.

Colwyn Council President Tonette Pray hired Bilal in September, but Pray has kept Bilal's salary and other details confidential - concealing the information even from the Republican mayor.

"I don't answer any questions," Pray told the Daily News in April. "My bottom line is I don't give out information."

The 170-acre borough is deeply divided along racial and political lines.

Pray, a Democrat who became Colwyn's first black council president in 2007, is facing a civil-rights lawsuit alleging that she has sought to make the borough "brown like UPS" by getting rid of the white police chief and other white employees. Pray said in 2010 that she's been threatened by "skinheads" and that someone put a listing on Craigslist saying that everything in her house was free. She declined to comment on yesterday's arrests.

Bilal is the second female president of Philadelphia's 2,000-member Guardian Civic League, the local chapter of the National Black Police Association. She has kept that position after leaving the city's police department.

"I never consider myself as all blue," she told the Daily News in April. "I've always been black."

Bilal did not return a phone call seeking comment yesterday, but a source close to her said the mail-theft charges may have been a pre-emptive strike from Parham, who was going to be facing disciplinary charges. Parham has now been suspended indefinitely by borough council.

Last year, Parham was arrested on simple assault and official oppression charges for using a Taser on a shackled teenager in a holding cell, then texting "lol" to a fellow cop. He was acquitted in October, but Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said at the time that he still believed Parham's actions were criminal.


On Twitter: @wbender99

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