Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of the Year Cop Out: Snapshot of Philadelphia

"Philadelphia to expand police body camera use" AP  November 11, 2015

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia’s next police commissioner said Wednesday that he would expand the use of officer body cameras in the department and limit police stops to when there is reasonable suspicion rather than employ ‘‘stop and frisk’’ tactics.

Richard Ross told reporters he sees his appointment as a ‘‘passing of the baton’’ from Commissioner Charles Ramsey, whom he called a mentor.

‘‘I don’t feel the need to act like we’re going to start from ground zero, because we’re not. We are going to build on it,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Commissioner Ramsey is his own man and he’s a great one, but he doesn’t expect me to be him. . . . I’m my own man.’’

Mayor-elect Jim Kenney formally announced Ross as his police commissioner pick at an afternoon news conference.

Ross, a 26-year veteran of the force who was widely expected to be named to the post, currently oversees daily operations for 6,000 of the Philadelphia Police Department’s sworn and civilian personnel.

From 2005 to 2008, he oversaw department operations, including making policy changes in training and investigations of police shootings. He also coordinated the city’s World Series celebration in 2008.

Ross takes the helm of the country’s fourth-largest police department and will succeed Ramsey, who last month announced his retirement as Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration comes to an end. Ramsey’s last day will be Jan. 7.

During his campaign, Kenney was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and vowed to end the police practice of stop and frisk. Ramsey countered that the department does not encourage that policy and that he supports the lawful version of the practice — known as ‘‘Terry stops’’ after the 1968 Supreme Court ruling upholding an officer’s right to pat down a person suspected of criminal activity.

Ross said the department will only make stops when ‘‘reasonable suspicion’’ warrants them.

‘‘That is the law, and we obviously cannot arbitrarily stop people for no reason,’’ Ross said.

According to his biography, Ross joined the Philadelphia Police Department in April 1989 and has served in several roles across the agency, from patrol to homicide to internal affairs.


"Pennsylvania governor vetoes parts of budget" by Peter Jackson Associated Press  December 30, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A stern-faced Governor Tom Wolf scolded Republican legislators Tuesday as he rejected parts of a $30.3 billion GOP plan for Pennsylvania’s budget but freed up money for schools, social services, and county governments that have been mired in a record six-month stalemate.

The Democrat said he released more than $23 billion, using his line-item veto power for the first time since he took office in January. To make ends meet during the budget standoff, social service agencies were forced to lay off employees, many state-subsidized pre-kindergarten programs closed their doors, and many school districts faced the possibility that they would not reopen after the holidays or run out of money....


Better pray for the citizens of Philadelphia.

UPDATE: Veteran councilor Jim Kenney sworn in as Philadelphia mayor