A number of residents testified today at a Public Safety Committee hearing of Philadelphia City Council that they have been victims of police abuse. The hearing was called by Councilmembers Donna Reed Miller and Curtis Jones Jr, whose council districts together cover most of Northwest Philadelphia.
Police officials at the hearing acknowledged that some officers may be causing problems, adding that they are working on a solution.
Police representatives said the numbers of complaints against police are down this year. This year, 136 complaints were made against Philadelphia police officers, which is down from the 195 complaints filed against city officers in 2009.
Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross testified that he is focusing investigative efforts on officers who have repeated complaints filed against them.
“We know exactly where the problems are, and we are starting to deal with them and address them at their very core,” Ross said.
Among those testifying today was Abdus Sabur, who said his son was assaulted by police.
“You people beat my child down and think he’s supposed to accept it,” said Sabur. “If you’ve got a cop that’s wrong let’s get rid of him, because he’s no good for the police department, do you understand?”
Police say the video of Sabur’s son being beaten, which was posted on YouTube, did not include the knocking down of an officer before police struck the man.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said one issue is police are walking into unknown situations and need to stay in control.
“For every negative case you show I can show you officers going above and beyond doing the right thing,” said Ramsey.
A Fraternal Order of Police spokesman affirmed Ramsey’s sentiment, adding that police are working hard to keep order in the city.
Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. responded that he agreed with 99 percent of that statement but took exception to a characterization
that the good guys ride in front and the bad guys ride in the back.
“Sometimes there are innocent people who ride in the back,” said Jones. “We need to treat all of them with dignity and respect.”
On Wednesday you can read about additional testimony offered by citizens who say were mistreated by the Philadelphia Police Department..