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Press Release

Department of Justice Releases Report on Philadelphia Police Department's Use of Deadly Force

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Releases 48 Findings and 91 Recommendations to Implement Best Practices at the Philadelphia Police Department

Note: The report, Collaborative Reform Initiative—An Assessment of Deadly Force in the Philadelphia Police Department can be found HERE on the COPS Office website.

The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) today announced the release of its initial report on the Philadelphia Police Department’s use of deadly force policies and practices.

In 2013, in response to an increase in officer-involved shootings, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey requested technical assistance from the COPS Office.  Launched in November 2013, the Collaborative Reform Initiative in Philadelphia focuses on the use of deadly force over a seven-year period.

“I applaud Commissioner Ramsey for stepping forward to take a more critical look at the use of force policies and practices within the Philadelphia Police Department,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis.  “Through enhanced training, improved transparency of deadly force investigations, and strengthened use of force review processes, I am confident the Philadelphia Police Department will see great improvement to its law enforcement policies.  The recommendations presented today benefit not only this department, but can serve as a guide for other police agencies across the country facing similar challenges.”  

The COPS Office’s training and technical assistance provider for the assessment, CNA, reviewed hundreds of departmental policies, manuals and training plans; conducted 164 interviews with community members and department civilian and sworn personnel; facilitated focus groups with city and department stakeholders; and directly observed operations, including the use of force review board hearings of 20 officer-involved shooting incidents.

Through its 48 findings, the assessment identifies serious deficiencies in the department’s use of force policies and training, including a failure to maintain a certified field training program; deficient, inconsistent supervision and operational control of officer-involved shooting investigations and crime scenes; and oversight and accountability practices in need of improvement, the most notable being the need for the department to fully cooperate with the Police Advisory Commission.

To address these issues, the report prescribes 91 recommendations to help the department improve with respect to the use of force and implement industry best practices.  The COPS Office will work with the Philadelphia Police Department over the next 18 months to help them implement these recommendations and will provide two progress reports during this time.

The report, Collaborative Reform Initiative—An Assessment of Deadly Force in the Philadelphia Police Department can be found on the COPS Office website.

The assessment was administered as part of the COPS Office's Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, designed to provide technical assistance to agencies facing significant law enforcement-related issues.  Using subject matter experts, interviews and direct observations, as well as conducting extensive research and analysis, the COPS Office assists law enforcement agencies with enhancing and improving their policies and procedures, their operating systems and their professional culture.  The COPS Office can issue a series of recommendations and be instrumental in assisting agencies with the implementation of those recommendations.

The COPS Office, headed by Director Ronald Davis, is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide.  Since 1995, COPS has awarded more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 126,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance.  For additional information about COPS, please visit the COPS Office website.

Updated June 21, 2021