Philly police advisory panel charts new course

The Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission is charting a new, more efficient course — at least that’s the goal, according to leaders of the civilian oversight board. The group announced Monday that longtime executive director Bill Johnson has been laid off and the organization will look for a new leader.

The interim director of the commission said he’s dedicated to moving it in the right direction — one that’s more transparent and accessible.

“We’re working on some maps and other digital solutions that will appear on our website,” said Kelvyn Anderson. “That will allow people to see exactly what types of complaints are being handled by the commission and Internal Affairs, where they are in the city, what types of complaints they are.”

To move forward correctly, Police Advisory Commission Chair Ronda Goldfein said the group must address a backlog of cases.

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“We have complainants who are no longer interested, complainants who are no longer in the area, and we have officers for who these complaints are just hanging over their heads,” Goldfein said. “We need to reach out to the complainants and, if they’re interested and involved, then we’ll see what we can do. But to kind of keep them open indefinitely doesn’t serve anyone.”

City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. said the recently fired Johnson should not shoulder all the responsibility for the commission’s work.

“Bill was the victim of an ill-prepared body — they didn’t have enough budget, they didn’t have enough investigators, they didn’t have enough support either from the administration or the community,” Jones said. “He was between a rock and a hard place of public policy.”

Over the summer, Goldfein said the commission will assess how it handles complaints and investigations.

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