Philadelphia Police Misconduct Complaints to be Released Online

PHILADELPHIA — The city plans to make civilian complaints about police misconduct available to the public online, the mayor said Wednesday.

Mayor Jim Kenney has signed an executive order to post narratives, locations and official findings of complaints against officers. He said the measure is intended to increase public awareness about how the city handles complaints against the police department.

“The release of this data is a common-sense reform that I hope will serve to increase community-police trust,” he wrote in a statement. “Everyone who works for the city of Philadelphia is a public servant, and the public deserves to know we will take their complaints about any city service seriously.”

Under the measure, which will go into effect in November, certain information such as the names of complainants and police officers will be redacted in the online postings to maintain the safety of those involved.

The Democratic mayor says the records can currently only be viewed in person at the police Internal Affairs Bureau.

Advocates said the online disclosures would help people keep police accountable for misconduct.

“Providing more transparency about police misbehavior is almost always a good step,” said Witold Walczak, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Pennsylvania chapter. “Unless the public knows how government officials are behaving, they can’t take steps to hold them accountable.”

Complaints from the previous three years are to be posted by early next year.

Some other cities make such data available in annual reports, said Liana Perez, the director of operations at the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, but she wasn’t certain how many post the misconduct reports online.

New York City, however, offers a searchable map online that lists the number of complaints per police precinct.

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