Philadelphians who represent a wide variety of professions and communities have been tapped by Mayor Nutter to join the Community Oversight Board.
A high ranking Philadelphia police official on Friday said he’s optimistic about implementing reforms that will make the department better.
At City Hall, moments before Mayor Michael Nutter revealed the 24 members of the Community Oversight Board, Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Richard Ross, seemed welcoming of both the recommendations which are expected to be implemented within the next 18 months and the civilians who will oversee the reform effort.
“This is no way an indictment of the fine men and women of the department,” he said, noting that the reforms recommended by The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the Department of Justice’s Collaborative Reform Initiative are the wave of the future. “There is where policing is going. We better all get on board with it and support,” added Commissioner Ross.
The point of contact for the twenty-four Community Oversight Board members – which include Mr. Kelvyn Anderson, Executive Director, Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission; Philadelphia City Councilwoman, Ms. Maria Quinones-Sanchez; Philadelphia City Councilman, Mr. Curtis Jones, Jr., and Rue Landau, Executive Director, Philadelphia Human Relations Commission – is Captain Jacqueline Bailey-Pittman, who received vocal support from Mr. Anderson for her “excellent work” as a Cops Liaison with the Internal Affairs Division.
The board will develop a realistic approach for implementing the report’s recommendations and monitor and asses the Department’s progress in doing so.
Mayor Nutter said the board will frequently issue progress reports to the public.
“Their work will advance our efforts to create a more responsive, more ethical, more service orientated Police Department, a department whose members respect all Philadelphians and earn the public’s respect by virtue of their professionalism,” stated the mayor in a press release.
Mayor Nutter said the board represented a “wide variety of professions and communities,” which, according to Ms. Landua, is needed in order to “do this right.”
What Ms. Landau hopes to achieve while serving on the board is to impact police and community relations in a positive way, which means “the community can see the police as their protectors, the police understand the rule book applies equally, and there’s respect on both sides.”
Councilman Jones, who represents Philadelphia’s 4th District and chairs the Philadelphia City Council Public Safety Committee, views community policing as less about seeing police as protectors, and more about seeing them as human beings, and them seeing citizens in the same way.
With a similar thought process as mayoral candidate, Mr. Nelson Diaz, and Mr. Juwan Bennett, a criminal justice teaching assistant at Temple University, Councilman Jones points to the importance of citizen-police micro-interactions.
“Police officers in the 19th District come out and are the referees at our basketball courts so that the first time a youth interacts with law enforcement isn’t negative. The officers then get to see the difference between the good kids and the kids who need intervention.”
Councilman Jones also praised the monthly Advisory Council meetings that allow citizens to speak openly about what they liked and disliked about their interactions with officers.
“It’s about having dialogue all the time,” he said.
If the interactions and conversations are frequent enough, suggested the councilman, everybody begins to realize that we’re all people… we are humanity.
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