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POLICE BRUTALITY : POLICE CORRUPTION : UNITED STATES: CITIES: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: Philadelphia Police-Related Deaths Plunge, But is Reform Enough?


David P. Dillard
 

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POLICE BRUTALITY :

POLICE CORRUPTION :

UNITED STATES: CITIES: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA:

Philadelphia Police-Related Deaths Plunge, But is Reform Enough?

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Philadelphia Police-Related Deaths Plunge, But is Reform Enough?

With only one killing recorded this year, brutality incidents and years of mistrust still mar the citys reputation

Jamiles Lartey in Philadelphia

Sunday 2 August 2015 07.00 EDT

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/02/ philadelphia-police-related-deaths-plunge-reform

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/nenz586

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Last Wednesday, Devon Guisherd shot a Philadelphia Swat officer in the chest before the officer returned fire and killed the 27-year-old. Guisherd had been wanted on murder charges tied to the death of 25-year-old Megan Doto, who was struck by a stray bullet in 2014. Dotos unborn daughter also died in the incident.

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Guisherds death marked the first time this year a person shot by an on-duty Philadelphia police officer died as a result of their injuries. A few years ago, it would have seemed impossible that seven full months could pass before the city hit this milestone. In 2012, 15 people died after being shot by Philadelphia police, according to the departments own records. In 2013, 13 people died.

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But in 2014, this number plunged to four, and in 2015, the city is on pace for even fewer. Police commissioner Charles Ramsey, who has been with the department since 2008, attributes this dramatic reduction to better training, new policies, and a department-wide emphasis on de-escalation. Our officers come into very volatile situations, Ramsey said in an interview with the Guardian. How do you de-escalate those situations so you dont have to use not just deadly force, but force in general?

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According to Ramsey, reality-based training, during which officers are placed into live simulations, is key. Also critical is training frequent enough that officers can react without even thinking about it, it because its just reflex, Ramsey said.

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Ramsey, who was selected by President Obama to co-chair the presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing earlier this year, is no stranger to overseeing this type of decline in shooting deaths. In 1998, the same year Ramsey took the top cop job in Washington DC, the Washington Post released a scathing five-part series detailing how bad training and lax investigations had left the citys metropolitan police as the deadliest major police force per resident in the 1990s.

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Ramsey asked the Justice Department to investigate and make reform recommendations. As a result, fatal officer-involved shootings fell between 1998 and 2001, from 12 to one.

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Those reforms seem to be standing the test of time, too. According to The Counted, the Guardians ongoing investigation on police killings in 2015, the Washington DC metropolitan police department is the only major city department nationwide not to have had a fatal officer-involved shooting this year, although a transit police officer did fatally wound a man in March.

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But the use of deadly force isnt the only measure of a department. In Washington DC, despite the success of many of his initiatives, Ramseys tenure was marred by a series of mass arrests of protesters. In both 2000 and 2002, DC metropolitan officers improperly rounded up hundreds of anti-IMF and World Bank demonstrators, costing taxpayers over $20m in settlements.

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In Philadelphia, Ramseys reform-minded administration seems vulnerable to decades-old mistrust between many of the citys black residents and the police mistrust recently catalyzed by the now-viral video of an April arrest of 22-year-old Tyree Carroll.

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Carroll was initially stopped by officers for riding his bike the wrong direction on a one-way street. In the video, officers can be seen repeatedly punching and kicking Carroll, and beating him with nightsticks. One officer can be heard yelling tase the motherfucker; another calls Carroll a piece of shit during the altercation.

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By the end of the arrest, 26 officers are present on the scene. Before the video ends, one officer appears to angrily toss Carrolls bike to the side of the road. It was later revealed that the officers who arrested Carroll were from the narcotics unit, and police said that 5.3 grams of crack cocaine were found in his possession. The incident is now under investigation by the departments internal affairs department.


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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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