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NEWS > 17 January 2007

Other related articles:

No action over man shot by pol
Two police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man who had a gun-shaped cigarette lighter will not face any disciplinary action.
Derek Bennett was shot by police marksmen in Brixton, south London, in June 2001 after holding the lighter to the neck of a member of the public.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said there was no evidence of misconduct.

The Court of Appeal last week ruled Mr Bennett was shot lawfully by police.

Since the shooting, Mr Bennett's family have campaigned for disciplinary action to be taken against the ... Read more

 Article sourced from

Philadelphia Daily News - Phil
17 January 2007
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PHILADELPHIA police shot 20 people to death last year.

This year, Bryan Jones, an unarmed 20-year-old was shot by police in the early-morning hours of Jan 1.

Two weeks later, Charles Kelley, 26, was shot and killed at 9th and Market streets after he apparently lunged at police and yelled "Kill me!"

What were the circumstances of these shootings? Were all 22 shooting victims innocent? Were the police justified in the use of force in all these circumstances? Could some of these shootings have been prevented?

More important: Where can we turn for unbiased, independent answers to these questions?

While a police investigation is under way on the Jones shooting, in cases like this, the city should have a strong, independent voice that also reviews such matters.

Our leaders -including Mayor Street and Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson - should be making this review process a priority, and not just for police shootings.

The only two independent voices in place - the Police Advisory Commission and the Integrity and Accountability office - are not enough... not in their current form, anyway.

The Police Advisory Commission has only recently been operating at full speed; it took the mayor nearly two years to fill seven vacancies in the 19-member board. And the Office of Integrity and Accountability, responsible for monitoring police operations, policies and practices, hasn't issued a report in three years.

This office should be at the forefront of the questions that arise after police shootings, or any complaint by citizens.

The office's last report came in 2004 and was released by then-director Ellen Green-Ceisler. Ironically, the scathing document was critical of how the department had handled police-shooting investigations and the discipline of officers.

The mayor and police commissioner took umbrage, and in early 2005, Green-Ceisler was gone.

The IAO was established 10 years ago as part of a consent decree in response to lawsuits against the department from civil-rights groups. The office has issued reports on how Police Department training and policies on use of force could be improved. It still exists, but it has a single staff member. Since no reports have been issued, we have no idea what this office does.

And although its mission was not to serve as an advocate for citizens, the kind of unvarnished and independent review of Police Department procedures and policies it did in the past has at least allowed citizens to sleep better at night. The call for such oversight does not assume that the department is at fault. But no law-enforcement agency can resist independent monitoring, or not consider itself accountable for its policies and practices and expect to win the trust of the citizens it must protect. And without trust, how effective can the police ever be? This is especially important when it comes to police shootings.

For example, one issue that has arisen in the past is the lack of training for officers who confront a mentally ill suspect. The Police Advisory Commission will soon start training officers on how to handle mentally ill suspects. It will be modeled after the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team model.

This training is one result of Green-Ceisler's 2004 report. And it's another reason why we hope the mayor makes police integrity and accountability a priority.


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