On Tuesday, the mayor released a statement saying the Philadelphia Police Department has made progress over the last four years, but the protests made clear it's not enough, so he’s advancing some short- and long-term measures that he hopes will bring meaningful change.
The statement reads, in part:
“That would identify those officers who are most at risk of getting in trouble down the road,” said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. She's also reviewing the hiring system.
Among the longer-term solutions: the creation of a permanent civilian Police Oversight Commission, which would replace and have more power than the current advisory commission; changes to state law regarding the use of deadly force and other concerns; and changes to the police contract, which would re-establish residency requirements, overhaul disciplinary procedures, and free the commissioner's hand in making transfers.
The changes would require cooperation from the state Legislature and success with the process of arbitrating a new police contract next year, though the contract changes may be the most difficult to achieve.
“It's frustrating for implementation of discipline, having that discipline often reversed,” Kenney said.
The city recently signed a one-year contract extension with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, which expires next June.
City Solicitor Marcel Pratt said announcing the city's goals in advance is a new approach.
“We're hopeful if we do reach an impasse with the FOP and the arbitrator has to render a decision, that all of the transparency and all of the public comment would play a role in how that decision is made,” said Pratt.
Kenney is also removing a proposed budget increase, which he said was to have gone to body cameras and training. City Council told Kenney on Monday that it will not increase spending for the police department, as he proposed in the revised budget he sent them on May 1.
The mayor added that he stands with those who have taken to the streets to protest, and it's been a humbling experience for him and members of his administration.
“Many of us have realized that, as progressive and inclusive as we think we are, we still have a lot to learn,” he said. “We want to approach this open-mindedly, but some of these things have to happen. You saw nationwide, even worldwide, the distress and frustration people were experiencing.”
The FOP had no immediate response.