Philadelphia police need more training: U.S. report on deadly force

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2015 3:39 PM

(Reuters) - Philadelphia police need more training to defuse significant tension between the community and police, according to a U.S. Justice Department report on police use of deadly force released on Monday.

The highly-anticipated report identified "serious deficiencies in the department's use of force policies and training," the Justice Department said.

The report was in response to a 2013 request for help from Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, considered a national leader in policing, after a spike in officer-involved shootings.

"Our assessment uncovered policy, training and operational deficiencies in addition to an undercurrent of significant strife between the community and department," said the report by the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

Philadelphia's police are among a growing number of departments to come under scrutiny for use of deadly force after the deaths of unarmed individuals in U.S. cities ranging from Ferguson, Missouri to Albuquerque, New Mexico and New York.

Ramsey was tapped by President Barack Obama to head up a national task force to improve police and community relations in the wake of unrest touched off by the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen shot dead by a white officer in Ferguson.

In Philadelphia, multiple cases of police brutality and rogue behavior have eroded the community's trust in the police department, the report said.

Among them was a Philadelphia detective charged with helping his girlfriend, who was a murder suspect, hide from police, and a band of narcotics officers accused of dangling people from high-rise balconies as an interrogation technique and stealing dealers’ drug stashes.

"Incidents involving discourtesy, use of force, and allegations of bias by officers leave segments of the community feeling disenfranchised and distrustful of the police department," the 174-page report said.

The report said training should include ways to peacefully resolve conflicts and use of non-lethal alternatives for defusing confrontations.

The recommendations will be implemented over the next 18 months and their success will be measured by two progress reports, the Justice Department said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; editing by Andrew Hay)