Could the lawless scene which played out last night in Charlotte, North Carolina – an occurrence, in response to a fatal officer-involved shooting of a black man who may have been armed with a weapon, so destructive that it resulted in 44 arrests, injuries to nine civilians and five officers, and the National Guard being deployed – happen in a city like Philadelphia, where the Democratic National Convention was held this past August?
The Mayor of Philadelphia certainly thinks so. In fact, Mr. Jim Kenney today said he held his breath while the convention was here, knowing that the tension which exist between police and communities could erupt at any moment. Luckily, the high-profile, seen-around-the-world event went off without chaos, but that doesn’t render Philadelphia free of its powder-keg circumstances, and the Mayor this afternoon acknowledged such.
“You would hope that something like that wouldn’t happen in Philadelphia, but you don’t be so naive as to think the possibility isn’t there… it is there.”
Mr. Kenney, who knows Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and appeared to empathize with her “terrible circumstances,” cautioned the public – and by the public, the Mayor also means police officers – to “watch what they say and do,” because anything can set off an occurrence similar to that which took place last night, and the evening before, in Charlotte.
But it’s not just about the probability of an uprising in one City or the other, argued the Mayor, rather the issue which catalyzed the civil unrest in North Carolina – perceived misconduct and the frustration some black and brown Americans have towards the police – is one the country is facing, even if it’s currently blind to it.
“The nation needs to come to grip with this issue,” Mayor Kenney, who called “troubling” the recent allegation that a Philadelphia police officer in a fit of road-rage pulled a gun on Mr. Ahmed Khalil and used a racial slur, said.
Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, City Councilman Mr. Curtis Jones today in an exclusive interview with Techbook Online said there’s a reason Philadelphia isn’t experiencing circumstances which mirrors North Carolina’s calamity.
“More community policing happens in Philadelphia than in other places,” the Councilman asserted. “Does Ferguson have a PAL Center? I don’t think so.”
The Councilman, who’s will soon pass a resolution to call for a public hearing on body cameras, today painted a picture of a police department that’s “ahead of the curve” but which still has work to do. Yet it’s the work done already, he argued, that “keeps us from being those other places.”
In a few ways, Councilman Jones is correct. Despite it being cash-strapped and sometimes neglected, Philadelphia does have a civilian oversight apparatus – most cities are either just now adopting one or function without it. Also, there’s regular police service area meetings, though they’re poorly advertised, and, most notable, Philadelphia police officers receives Crisis Intervention Training, which is for one week and facilitated by the city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.
“I have to give (Philadelphia) police a lot of credit. Because typically police don’t receive any training in mental health… we’re already ahead of the curve,” Dr. Arthur Evans, Commissioner of DBHIDS, told Techbook Online this afternoon.
Dr. Evans disclosed to me that in addition to the Crisis Intervention Training, which was implemented by former Police Commissioner Mr. Sylvester Johnson, individuals in the police academy are now receiving a whole day of Mental Health First Aid training.
Unlike in other cities, where it’s been reported that police have killed citizens who were acting erratically and displaying diminished mental capacity, the police department when notified of such an occurrence sends out cops trained in defusing situations with the mentally-ill (roughly 2,500 officers have received the training), which could explain why the number of fatal officer-involved shootings in Philadelphia in recent years hasn’t cracked double-digits.
Dr. Evans said he has done ride-alongs with officers and referred to their responses to the mentally-ill as “impressive.”
Councilman Jones said we, as a City, should be thankful, but not too arrogant, that the great investments in good policing methods are now paying dividends and are differentiating Philadelphia from those cities which, in the last two years, have been set ablaze by its residents.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
The role of men is changing in the 21st century. Want to keep up? Get the best stories from The Good Men Project delivered straight to your inbox, here.