Less than a week after Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams characterized the police shooting of Brandon Tate-Brown as a tragedy, not a crime, a report by the U.S. Justice department yesterday called on the Philadelphia Police to overhaul its training and internal review systems in light of a rate of civilian shootings that is far higher than it should be.
The 174-page report, which can be found in its entirety here, is the product of a multi-year investigation initiated by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who also happens to have recently been appointed chair of a federal task force on 21st century policing. Investigators looked at all officer-involved shootings in the police department dating back to 2007.
The report’s key findings:
- Out of 382 suspects shot at by police between 2007 and 2013, 88 were killed, 180 injured and 115 unharmed.
- 60 percent of officers involved in shootings were white. 81 percent of civilians involved were black.
- 20 percent of civilians involved in officer-involved shooting incidents in 2013 were unarmed.
- 49 percent of shootings involving unarmed civilians were triggered by the officer misidentifying a random object as a weapon.
- Black and hispanic officers were more likely to perceive a threat when there was none.
In it’s concluding graph, investigators praised Ramsey and the police department for not only initiating the investigation but offering full cooperation. Yet, they said the department has a lot of room for improvement:
Our overarching goal is to make the PPD a “best practice” police department for deadly force policy, training, investigations, and oversight. The department has much work to do in the months and years ahead. Our assessment uncovered policy, training, and operational deficiencies in addition to an undercurrent of significant strife between the community and department. It yielded 48 findings and 91 recommendations for the department to consider in reforming its deadly force practices. We found the PPD’s policies to be in need of significant refinement. Officers need more less-lethal options.