FOP challenges naming of officers in shootings

Police examining Rudolph Keitt's car in May.
Police examining Rudolph Keitt's car in May. (JOSEPH KACZMAREK / For The Inquirer)
Posted: July 05, 2015

The union representing Philadelphia police officers has challenged Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey's new policy making public the names of officers in police-involved shootings.

Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police filed an unfair labor practice complaint Wednesday with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, just hours after Ramsey announced his intention to release an officer's name within 72 hours of a police-involved shooting unless there is a threat against the officer or family.

The union contends that Ramsey's disclosure policy was implemented "without negotiating with or securing the approval of the FOP."

"This unilateral change is contrary to decades of past practice between the parties whereby the privacy rights of officers were valued and protected," says the complaint, filed by Stephen J. Holroyd, a lawyer for the FOP.

The complaint also contends that four proposed directives changing the department's use-of-force policies "were contrary to the collective bargaining agreement between the FOP and the city."

"The city unilaterally implemented these changes in working conditions without first bargaining with the FOP or, indeed, even requesting bargaining with the FOP," it says.

Ramsey said Friday, "I think we're within our rights to take the steps we took, have taken, and are going to take."

As for the complaint, Ramsey said, "They certainly have every right to file that."

Ramsey's new policy to disclose the names of officers in police-involved shootings, and the four proposed directives about police use of force, were among 91 recommendations by the U.S. Justice Department in a March 23 report on police-community relations in Philadelphia.

The report, the result of a study requested by Ramsey, found "significant strife between the community and the department," and said the department's guidelines on when officers may use force - ranging from physical force to firearms - were confusing and inconsistent.

Ramsey said the four use-of-force directives cited in the FOP complaint would bring about major changes in how officers are trained to use firearms, the investigation of officer-involved shootings, processing crime-scene evidence, and the "use-of-force continuum" - techniques for controlling how and when types of force may be used.

Ramsey on Friday released the names of the first two officers involved in a shooting since announcing the disclosure policy.

The officers, Michael Minor and Robert Hoppe, shot and wounded Rudolph Keitt on May 12 after Keitt allegedly hit an officer with his car and then fled, hitting two more police cars and injuring three more officers in an incident ending in West Oak Lane.

Keitt, 47, whose female passenger told police he had a seizure, was charged with attempted murder and related crimes. He is being held on $250,000 bail and undergoing psychiatric evaluation after being found mentally incompetent and unable to understand the judicial process he faces.

Keitt is scheduled for an Aug. 11 status hearing in Municipal Court.

Ramsey said that both officers were informed in advance that their names were being disclosed and that he made the disclosure after being assured there were no threats against them or their families.

The commissioner said he followed the same process last month when he announced the name of 15th District Officer Nicholas Carelli as the person who fatally shot 25-year-old Brandon Tate-Brown in a Frankford traffic stop in December. Carelli was cleared in the shooting.

"That's why I didn't initially identify the officer in the Brandon Tate-Brown case. There were threats against him and his family," Ramsey said.



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