Police department faces tough crowd

Near the beginning of yesterday’s police conduct hearing, City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller said, “This is not a forum for bashing or hate.”

With his department struggling to repair reputational damage, Commissioner Charles Ramsey spoke of building a police force “woven throughout the communities we serve.” Then, he listened as residents bashed the stop-and-frisk phenomenon, saying police officers need to better interact with the public.

A University of Pennsylvania professor spoke of having his Bible searched for a hidden gun outside a church. A pastor whose service was interrupted by officers questioning homeless parishioners asked, “Why can’t it be ‘stop-and-say-good-morning?” And, a father railed against police for his son’s beating at some officer’s batons.

“We should lock up cops for mistreating citizens,” said Abdus Sabur, whose son Askia was beaten in the 19th District and had charges of assaulting an officer dismissed.

Ramsey has publicly ridiculed corrupt cops, beefed up Internal Affairs and established a relationship with Penn Behavioral Health. As of Nov. 30, 725 complaints about police have been filed with 170 investigations launched.

“We are interested, at this point, in results,” said attorney Mary Catherine Roper of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued the city for its stop-and-frisk policy.

Police ‘psyche’

Describing the police-public relationship, Councilman Darrell Clarke spoke about hanging out with friends at Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

“If I’m wearing a sweatshirt, I get a look. If I’m wearing a suit, I get a [polite] nod, and they don’t necessarily know who I am,” he said, noting concerns with the “psyche” of police officers working in areas unlike where they were raised.

“We’ve known each other a long time,” he said about Councilman Bill Greenlee, “but I
couldn’t go south of Girard where he grew up, and he couldn’t go north of Girard where I grew up. We don’t say anything about that. We just look at each other and know.”

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