3.5.18: Philadelphia – (Politics): Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed budget, which was introduced to the public last Thursday, makes provision for the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, an important agency long treated as an after-thought. However, the dollar amount is nowhere near that which was outlined for the Philadelphia Police Department.
The PAC, which is now led by Mr. Hans Menos, a former social worker, will receive a $250,000 bump in its budget, bringing its total annual budget to $658,000.
“Big thanks to Mayor Kenney, as this means he will have more than doubled the PAC’s funding in the two years,” Mr. Menos texted me on Monday.
Last September, City Councilmen Darrell Clarke, who is also the President of the governing body, and City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., introduced an ordinance and resolution to propose an amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter mandating a minimum annual operating budget appropriation to the Police Advisory Commission of $500,000, a 142-percent improvement over the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriation. According to Metro Philadelphia, if the legislation passes, Council would ask voters to weigh a proposed charter change in the May primary.
The allocations of funds to both the PAC and PPD are to be used on staffing. But the jobs which the PAC plan to create may surprise the public.
Soon, the PAC will hire not investigators, but policy analysts, Mr. Menos told me Saturday, in an exclusive interview by phone.
“I’m looking for people who can write and understand the science of policing,” Mr. Menos said, adding that while he wants the wonky-type, candidates also need to have “people skills” and be able to answer this question: How do you see the role of police?Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
Additionally, Mr. Menos told me that he needs at least one new hire to have a statistical background.
There’s a common mis-perception that the PAC is the primary investigative body for police complaints, and even cases of officer-involved shooting. That isn’t true. And Mr. Menos – who’s been serving as Executive Director for less than a year – considers re-educating the public on what the agency does, and doesn’t do, among his top priorities.
“We’ve never been the primary investigator of any complaint,” Mr. Menos revealed.
The confusion may stem from the fact that the PAC does, indeed, accept complaints, but they are then forwarded to Internal Affairs, which has, according to Mr. Menos’ calculations, roughly 100 investigators.
A Philadelphia City Councilman last week alerted me to the aforementioned fact, and Mr. Menos offered confirmation.
There has been a debate occurring in the city for quite some time on whether or not it’s appropriate to have an independent agency that investigates both police complaints and officer-involved shootings.
Mr. John McNesby, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, is said to be completely against the idea of anyone other than police investigating cops. However, a number of police-reform advocates here, including myself, have not only pushed for an independent review board – which others cities, like Chicago, have – but for the PAC to be a permanent fixture of government (it currently exists per an executive order).
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Author’s bio: Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris is an award-winning journalist, online content producer and professional drummer currently serving as the CEO of Techbook Online, a Philadelphia-based news and event company, and the host of Wake Up with WURD, the live, drive-time morning show which airs every weekday from 7-10a on WURD Radio 96.1FM/900AM/WURDRadio.com.
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