January 815, 1998
The investigators sit in cold steel chairs, their desks jammed too close to one another. There's a profound lack of necessary resourcessome IAD investigators record information with their own personal computers.
Jordan neither concurred with nor rejected criticisms of Neal and Rendell. "I don't want to participate in a public debate," he says, adding that his next report will include discussion of the administration. "I had better save comment for then."
A year ago, the city hired James Jordan to find out how well the Philadelphia Police Department was policing itself. Can he tell the whole truth without losing his job?
by Gwen Shaffer
These days, James Jordan can usually be found crouched over his massive redwood desk, poring over stacks of internal police investigations. His office, tucked away in the back of a downtown highrise, looks directly out at City Hall. This particular morning the figure of William Penn is just barely visible through a shroud of heavy fog.
It's an appropriate image, perhaps, for Jordan's cumbersome task:
He's preparing to publicly release his second report on the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) of the Philadelphia Police Department.
Jordan is the city's "Integrity and Accountability Officer." He is charged with monitoring and auditing the police department's anti-corruption and anti-misconduct programs. Jordan's first report, released Nov. 19, 1997, took a largely favorable stance toward IAD and its efforts to improve under the leadership of Chief Inspector John Maxwell.
Now sources say a second report due out in February will come down much harder, not only on the police department but on the Rendell administration as well.
Jordan was appointed to his post by Rendell, and he reports directly to the mayor and to Police Commissioner Richard Neal. Can he tell the whole truth about the IAD without losing his job?
The Integrity and Accountability Office was born out of perhaps the worst scandal in recent Philadelphia Police Department history: the debacle in the 39th District.
Police-Barrio Relations Project Director Will Gonzalez
"Jordan is a man without a country," says Will Gonzalez, executive director of the Police-Barrio Relations Project. "He has been given a job with no staff, and they have left this man there in the middle trying to do 50 things at the same time."
A 1995 investigation into corrupt cops in the district led to the convictions of six officers, and overwhelming evidence that cops routinely lied while testifying spurred the courts to overturn more than 160 criminal convictions. So far, the city of Philadelphia has shelled out nearly $5 million in wrongful arrest settlements.
In September 1996, in the wake of the 39th District scandal, Mayor Rendell helped broker a settlement intended to ensure that complaints against police (or CAPs, in department parlance) would be fully investigated. The settlementinstituted by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the NAACP and a Latino rights group called the Police-Barrio Relations Projectestablished major reforms to improve police accountability and reduce the potential for police misconduct.
The creation of the Integrity and Accountability Office was a significant component of the 1996 agreement. At the time, Jordan was serving as chair of the Litigation Department within the City Solicitor's Office. Because of his experience as both a prosecutor and Philadelphia insider, Rendell asked him to lead the newly created office. Jordan formally began his position on Jan. 6, 1997.
That was one year ago. What's happened since is a matter of perspectiveand perspective depends on how one interprets the numbers.
The official police department reports would seem to be some cause for concern. They show a slight increase in CAPs during the first six months of 1997, with 329 complaints filed, 19 more than in 1996. Internal investigations are also on the rise, with 130 ongoing during this time24 more than the previous year.
But several people working toward the settlement goals boast about the increase in complaints. "It means citizens are filing more complaints because they have the confidence they will be addressed," says Carlton Johnson, an attorney in the City Solicitor's Office who represents the police department. "This may sound weird, but we encourage people to file complaints."
Clearly, numbers alone cannot begin to tell the whole story. Rather, improvement will be reflected by a shift in culture both within IAD and among cops on the street. In that respect, many say they are disappointed by what they see.
James Jordan in his office behind a towering stack of internal affairsinvestigation reports.
"We are not where we should be or where we expected to be 15 months later," says Will Gonzalez, executive director of the Police-Barrio Relations Project. Despite the apparent increase in citizens' confidence, he is disheartened by delays in upgrading technology and resources for investigators, as well as a culture of brutality that seems to persist among officers. At the same time, Gonzalez says he recognizes the obstacles IAD is confronting.
"There has been foot-dragging by the administration. We are dealing with a huge bureaucracy," he says, characterizing the police department as a "behemoth" institution that will only grudgingly accept change.
Public Defender Bradley Bridge says he doesn't see any "institutional changes" within the police department since the Integrity and Accountability Office was created. "My slant is there are gigantic systemic problems. They are not going to be abated by a monitor, although that's a good start."
Bridge characterizes the city prosecutor's office as "acting as an apologist" for the police department. He contends that widespread corruption among Philadelphia cops is merely "a symptom of a much broader problem," including a breakdown in how officers are evaluated and a failure on the part of the District Attorney's Office to prosecute strong cases.
Jim Fyfe, a Temple University criminology professor who has reviewed IAD investigations, contends that, in general, IAD's operations are second-rate and frequently off-base. "Investigations and conclusions have nothing to do with reality," he says of the cases on which he has been involved. "The system is out of whack."
One recent case reviewed by Fyfe involves charges that cops brutalized a family living near Fairmount Park in North Philadelphia.
Attorney William McLaughlin, whose practice is in Paoli, recently represented this family, who claims they were clubbed by officers called to their neighborhood during a scuffle with neighbors. The couple, Leon and Dorthea Russell, and their two teenage daughters sued the police department for violating their civil rights, but lost in court in November. Two IAD investigations into the incident found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers involved, despite a neighbor's testimony that officers did beat the family members with flashlights and possibly other weapons.
McLaughlin says his experience with IAD, in this case and others, leads him to believe that IAD officers are reluctant to indict their own colleagues. While IAD did interview a number of neighbors about the incident and appeared to conduct a thorough investigation, McLaughlin says officers neglected to ask witnesses key questions or verify the accuracy of witnesses' testimony. "[Investigators] just wrote down what they thought was said, but there were all kinds of things out of sequence and times were recorded wrong. What disturbed me was when they were making a report of [one witness' testimony], she said she saw people getting hit with a weapon, and IAD has no record of [what she said]."
Johnson says the fact that "an unbiased federal jury" exonerated the officers speaks for itself. In response to the claim that IAD investigators had inaccurately recorded the report of an eyewitness, Johnson says witnesses must sign off on written statements.
In his practice, McLaughlin has represented both Philadelphia residents and city police officers. Because of this perspective, McLaughlin says he can see both sides of the fence.
He understands why cops feel they need to rely on a certain level of intimidation to maintain control. One of McLaughlin's clients, a police officer, told him "anecdotally" that cops frequently use excessive force to help keep order on the street. "Nobody worries about getting in trouble for using force," McLaughlin says. "There's very little possibilityunless it's caught on tapethat there will be any consequence."
"It defies good common sense why, here we are one year and four months later, and there has been no significant progress on this," says the ACLU's Stefan Presser. "The whole thing is like moving a glacier."
The problem is that police officers are also the "final authority" when it comes to enforcing laws on the street. "In a big-city police department, you are going to have a certain percentage of cops who are out of control," he says.
Maxwell, however, is clear on what the rules are for officers: it is never acceptable, he says, for a police officer to use excessive force.
It's possible, though, for officers to violate these rules without being caught because of the limited usefulness of standard evaluations. Assessments of police performance often bear no connection to how an officer actually performs his or her job because they rely primarily on quantitative measures, such as response time, numbers of calls answered or citations issued. A more accurate measure would take into account qualitative measureshow well police live up to their responsibilities to protect the lives, rights and property of citizens and to preserve order.
In Jordan's first report he touches on this issue. During a recent interview, he noted that "one puzzle of the 39th District scandal" is that the officers eventually brought down by the courts had, for the most part, received pristine evaluations. One officer had received 14 perfect job ratingsone for every year he served in the department.
Working for IADuncovering evidence and potentially indicting one of your colleaguesis widely considered one of the toughest jobs on the force. "You have to be dedicated to even take that job," says Charles Kluge, executive director of the Police Advisory Commission, a civilian review board that has authority to recommend punishment for cops who violate citizen rights.
Maxwell will say only that working for IAD is "very challenging." The payoff, he says, is "insight"IAD officers get a glimpse into the inner workings of the police department that others never see.
Whatever the payoff, the workload is extremely tough. IAD maintains a crushing backlog of investigations. Some are not completed until a full year after reaching the desks of IAD, even though investigations are supposed to conclude within 75 days. As of July 1997, there was a total of 566 outstanding investigations, including 382 citizen complaints against police, 137 complaints about cops filed by other law enforcement agents, 41 police shootings and six drug screening investigations.
The 100 investigators assigned to these cases work in a cramped space on the second story of a gray brick building in Old City. It's set back from the street and surrounded by a high metal fence, and on a recent December afternoon the only decoration was a sagging but gaudily adorned Christmas tree on the second-floor landing. "Check out our beautifully decorated tree," said an IAD officer without a trace of irony.
The investigators sit in cold steel chairs, their desks jammed too close to one another. There's a profound lack of necessary resourcessome IAD investigators record information with their own personal computers. The average caseload is 12 to 15 cases each; the ideal number is seven.
"There are a lot of good men and women over there who can't do their jobs because they don't have the resources," says a political insider with knowledge of the police department.
At present, investigators have virtually no privacy"a necessity for conducting interviews and meeting witnesses, especially in sensitive matters," Jordan wrote in his November report.
Investigators share the building at 323 Race St. with other police department divisionswhose staff it may be (and has been) required to interview. Two small interview rooms, which sources describe as "shabby" and "inadequate," provide nowhere near enough space for investigators to conduct the numerous interviews required by their jobsa situation which further contributes to the backlog of outstanding complaints against cops.
Maxwell could not comment on specific working conditions within IAD, but he does acknowledge privacy as a necessity for the officers. "We'd like to have one-on-one interviews," he says. "Whether with a doctor and a patient, or a professor and a student, it's just better to have privacy, than interviewing someone in a roomful of people."
The poor appearance of the office may also reflect the attitude some witnesses have toward IAD, Jordan says.
"The reality is that some cop being ordered to come down and give a statement, walks in, sees the mess... They have to scramble to find space to talk... It communicates the message we are not serious or we are a third-rate institution," he says.
While Jordan is optimistic his recommendations are being taken seriously, he is also realistic. "The downside is that IAD has been promised a new building since 1994 and it hasn't happened yet," he says. "No one's packing their files."
Another key frustration for Jordan is the lack of computerization within the Philadelphia Police Department. Currently, all of IAD's investigations are recorded on paperthere is no database where they can be electronically accessed.
The judge for the 1996 settlement agreement appointed plaintiffs' attorneys Stefan Presser, David Rudovsky and Alan Yatvin as external monitors. Clearly, the monitors have their own reasons for wanting the ability to more easily track complaints against officers.
"It defies good common sense why, here we are one year and four months later, and there has been no significant progress on this," Presser says. "The whole thing is like moving a glacier."
Last year, the three monitors and Jordan flew out to Los Angeles to check out the computer system developed by the L.A. Sheriff's Department. "[We] sat at the terminal and called up every single arrest and accommodation with a keystroke," he recalls. "[Philadelphia] is just not a department that is at ease with technology." Presser does not sense that the investigators themselves are resistant to computerization, but says the reluctance has got to rest "with the commissioner."
Jordan agrees that computerization is important if the police department is serious about collecting thorough information. If IAD were able to readily access datasuch as patterns of problems for a particular unit or prior complaints about an officerthe division could gain broader insight into problems affecting the police department, Jordan says. "Today, to collect that kind of information, you have to put on your old clothes and wade through old records."
Carlton Johnson of the City Solicitor's office questions the conclusion that upgrading the technology used by IAD will somehow provide the "magic bullet" the department has been hoping for. He makes the point that technology cannot change the attitudes of officers who violate citizens' rights. "There are lots of proposals for computerization. But it's not that simple. New York spent millions on computerization and then had the Louima case," he says, referring to a highly publicized incident of police brutality (involving a rape with a bathroom plunger) that occurred this past summer in Brooklyn.
Johnson denies that Philadelphia's officers are reluctant to accept new computers. Rather, he says, the police department does not want to invest heavily in equipment that may be obsolete before it is ever fully integrated.
"The department is figuring out which information it needs to capture, and how to capture it. Once they figure that out, the department will move quickly." It is not a matter of avoiding having to learn a new system. "Officers want technology. It makes it easier for them."
If police leadership is waiting for a kink-free system, it's never going to happen, Gonzalez says. Potential problems should not stand in the way of investing in new technologies, he adds. "I've been fighting with my computer at home for the last two weeks, but that doesn't mean I am going to go back to using a pen and paper."
In certain ways, Jordan says, his first report only looked at "soft" issues. Overall, his office found the quality of IAD's investigations has improved dramatically over the past couple of years. (Jordan attributes this progress mainly to organizational restructuring.)
But in his next report, Jordan says he will "get to the more heart and soul issues."
Specifically, the report will examine how officers are disciplined and how decisions concerning where to transfer officers are made. It's one thing to come out with a finding of officer misconduct, but the disciplinary system must follow through, he says. "Discipline tends to be fragmented, with a lot of inconsistency." He says that disciplinary systems tend to be subject to "all kinds of influences," including unions and favoritism from higher-ups in the force.
The unnamed source with connections to the police department places heavy significance on Jordan's February report, going so far as to say Jordan's hard-hitting conclusions may spur the powers that be to fire him from his appointment as Integrity and Accountability officer. Jordan intends to bring to light sensitive issues of low morale among officers, and "skewed" hiring and promotion practices, the source says.
While not knowing what Jordan plans to write in his next report, Fyfe charges that Rendell has seriously neglected the Philadelphia Police Department. Specifically, he says Rendell instituted community policing and then short-sightedly took it away. By forcing cops to work more overnight shifts, the mayor has lowered morale in the department and created a situation where cops have "eternal jet lag," he charges. And, Fyfe says, the mayor has failed to provide proper training and resources for officers.
"It seems to me that a guy capable of creating the Avenue of the Arts and getting the Norwegians to come into our shipyard could help the police department."
Rendell's role in relation to the department gets to the core of how he chose to set up the Integrity and Accountability Office. Jordan is considered a man of principle, almost saintly by the descriptions of his colleagues, but some say he's been placed in a position that could bend a steel rod.
If Jordan is simply one more insider appointed byand answering tothe administration, Fyfe and others question whether he can be an effective force for change. They wonder how openly critical Jordan can be of police and city leadership when Rendell and Neal are his bosses. While other U.S. cities have created police oversight positions equivalent to Jordan's, the appointments are typically independent. In Los Angeles, for example, the inspector general reports to a board of police commissioners, one level above the police commissioner.
"Jordan is a man without a country," Gonzalez says. "He has been given a job with no staff, and they have left this man there in the middle trying to do 50 things at the same time."
Jordan himself says he does not feel beholden to the administration in any way. "Many people become co-opted; they become defenders of the police department rather than objective analysts," he acknowledges. "That's why I've kept a certain distance from the department. I've done my best to establish independence of the office as much as possible."
There's another, more positive spin to the situation.
City Solicitor's attorney Johnson acknowledges that Jordan did not enter his role as Integrity and Accountability officer from an objective perspective but, he says, Jordan's intimate knowledge of the players and the system should be viewed as a plus. "In order to understand what has occurred, you have to have an insider's view."
Johnson says Jordan's ultimate goalto eradicate police corruptionis most meaningful, not to whom he reports. "Access is most important. You have to get to the information that lets you do your job." Johnson insists that Neal has acted "very responsively" in allowing access to police files.
Even if Jordan is walking a tightrope, fear of retaliation from the administration will not stop Jordan from coming down tough on Rendell in his February report. Sources say he plans to address a lack of accountability within the police department and the dire need for better officer training.
At the same time, you don't have to dig too deeply into the law enforcement field to find strong supporters of Rendell and Neal.
Although not at all involved in the settlement, the Police Advisory Commission is certainly in a position to feel its effects. Jim Eisenhower is lead counsel for the commission, whose members were also appointed by Rendell and whose staff members are paid with city funds. Eishenhower disagrees with those who maintain that Jordan is compromised by the fact that he is an appointee of the mayor and reports directly to Rendell and Neal.
He compares the Integrity and Accountability Office to the Police Advisory Commission. The commission has held six public hearings on complaints against officers since February 1997, and the commission plans to hold two hearings every month of this year. "The commission has become more and more a part of the fabric of police accountability in the city," Eisenhower says. "Nobody would accuse us of kowtowing to political pressure."
Jordan, himself, insists he would never sign off on any document that he did not truly believe in, and every person interviewed for this story made a point of stressing Jordan's honesty and commitment.
This may be the case, but it is difficult to miss Jordan's efforts to preface each criticism with praise throughout his November report. "While this report points out areas in which improvements can be made, there unquestionably has been significant progress," reads a typical sentence.
It is indisputable that Jordan's November report was rewritten at least twice. But was it amended because Rendell and Neal were not comfortable with the initial level of criticism flung at the police department? There is a great deal of disagreement over whether the report was "suppressed," or whetheras Jordan sayshe chose to spend more time improving the accuracy of the report before eventually releasing it.
Some sources say Jordan was "stonewalled" and that the Rendell administration only allowed him to release the report when the court pressed for it. The administration was uncomfortable with criticism surrounding police training and lack of accountability, they say. Neal also thought early drafts failed to assign enough credit to the police department for improvements, these sources add.
Jordan admits that he floated an initial draft of his report to Neal and Rendell at the beginning of the summer, but denies that he was barred from including any information in his final report.
"They had a lot of concernssome points were legitimate, some we didn't agree with, and some we wanted to do more research on," he says. "I give my reports to the commissioner, but I don't see myself as under his command. He doesn't write or rewrite my reports."
Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for Mayor Rendell, characterizes rewrites as a standard element of the drafting process, and denies that anyone in the mayor's office ever dictated content of Jordan's report. "To suggest, somehow, that Jim was compromised, is wrong and unfair."
Perhaps Jordan cannot be compromised. But he can, so to speak, be handcuffed.
Fyfe says everyone who has ever accepted a job similar to Jordan's "has been put in the hotseat." People enter into the position with a lot of ideas, he says, only to realize that it is a thankless job.
The court-appointed monitors of the settlement agreement envisioned Jordan playing the role of watchdog. Now, some say, they wonder if the police department is allowing Jordan to fulfill that role by freely opening up their files and giving him access to the necessary people. In a perfect world, Jordan's position would be more independent of the city administration, the monitors agree.
Alan Yatvin, one of the settlement monitors, says he had greater expectations for one year into the agreement. "But don't lay that at Jim Jordan's feet. He needs more personnel."
Perhaps more disturbing than Jordan's position as an employee of the administration are charges that Mayor Rendell and Commissioner Neal don't care about reforming Philadelphia's police department.
"Many people become co-opted; they become defenders of the police department rather than objective analysts," says James Jordan. "That's why I've done my best to establish independence for the office as much as possible."
Charles Kluge, director of the Police Advisory Commission, doesn't work with Jordan on a regular basis and says he is not in a position to comment on Jordan's role as accountability officer. However, based on his own experience dealing with the police department, Kluge is highly critical of the Rendell administration's commitment to reform.
"The mayor has not been supportive," Kluge says, adding that Neal appears to "turn a deaf ear" to the commission.
Feeley scoffs at such remarks. "Anyone who thinks the mayor is not serious about crime doesn't have a clue."
A spokesperson for the police department says Commissioner Neal has no comment on allegations that he is neglecting reform.
Jordan declined to comment on the level of commitment to reform he sees emanating from the Rendell administration. Jordan neither concurred with nor rejected criticisms of Neal and Rendell. "I don't want to participate in a public debate," he says, adding that his next report will include discussion of the administration. "I had better save comment for then."
ACLU attorney and settlement monitor Stefan Presser defends the Rendell administration. The fact that the mayor wanted to avoid a lawsuit reflects his deep desire to clean up problems within IAD, Presser says. "If the mayor had chosen to, we could have litigated this case. And we probably still would not have gone to trial two years later." Even after trial, the litigation could have languished for years in the appeals system.
The settlement agreement itself had the potential to incite more litigation.
Surprisingly, Philadelphia's powerful police union has never sued the city over its right to create an Office of Integrity and Accountability. But Philadelphia's influential Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) certainly has attempted to quell other oversight efforts. The Police Advisory Commission's Eisenhower says the FOP has dragged his organization to court 15 different times, challenging everything from the commission's legal right to exist to the fairness of its hearings. The FOP has lost in court all 15 times. But it has achieved something else.
"If their strategy was delay usto cost us time and moneyit worked to a certain extent," Eishenhower says.
Jordan says he has not had any negative experiences with the FOP, possibly because he had gained the union's trust in his previous position working in the city's litigation office. "They knew, coming in, that I wasn't anti-cop."
On the surface, many of the recommendations laid out in Jordan's November report appear quite basic: improve facilities for Internal Affairs investigators so that they have more privacy when interviewing witnesses; have trained personnel at IAD and non-police sites to conduct more comprehensive interviews when complaints are filed; and have IAD focus its resources on the most serious of complaints.
So why does the city need an Integrity and Accountability officer to point out these improvements? Shouldn't they be obvious?
"It seems basic to not drop a bomb on a rowhouse or to not sic police dogs on people," Gonzalez counters, referring to the police department debacle with MOVE. "We are dealing with an institution with a legacy of not understanding accountability."
Johnson of the City Solicitor's office says that, individually, problems at IAD which Jordan pinpoints in his report may appear obvious, "but when you look at the aggregate," they can represent an overwhelming problem. "Overall, many of the recommendations in the report were things the Philadelphia Police Department had contemplated," Johnson acknowledges, but written recommendations will help the department "arrange our priorities."
A major rationale behind the appointment of an Integrity and Accountability officer was to restore the public's confidence in the police department. In order to do that, the internal culture of the police department must change dramatically, those involved in the settlement say. It may be too early to determine whether a philosophical change is happening, but department sources say they are laying the groundwork.
The department is making a concerted effort at the recruitment level and in police academy training, Johnson says. "The department is making it clear that the 'code of silence' will not be tolerated," he says, noting that a significant number of complaints against officers are generated by fellow cops at the scene of the incident.
There is no question that identifying structural change is tough to do. But Jordan says he sees signs that the police establishment is letting go of its tightly ingrained culture. He says the change is reflected in the quality of investigations IAD conducts. Specifically, he says the IAD investigations he reviewed from 1997 demonstrate a more determined attitude to identify problem officers within the division.
Perhaps attitudes have changed when it comes to conducting investigations of their fellow officers. But statistical evidence points to continued complaints about the attitudes of cops patrolling the streets. From January 1992 to May 1997, IAD received about 823 CAPs alleging some form of verbal abuse. Of those, 250 of the complaints were sustained. Investigations of these complaints often boil down to the officers' word against the allegations of the complainantmaking it difficult to prove anything.
In last year's report, Jordan stresses that an officer's "bad attitude" can have far-reaching consequences for the entire department. "Efforts at meaningful and effective community policing are doomed to failure if there is a perception of tense, hostile relations between the public and police, regardless of the actual number of reported or sustained cases."
Verbal intimidation is the one complaint Jordan says was filed across the boardfrom residents of every race and age. Officers justify verbal threats and cursing of citizens with claims that they have to let people "know who's boss."
"It is important for cops to establish authority, just as it is important for lawyers to establish authority in the courtroom," Jordan says, "but you don't have to 'motherfuck' someone. If Mother Teresa joined the Philadelphia Police Department, she would be saying 'motherfucker.' The question is, aren't there more effective techniques?"
Recruits should be trained in "verbal judo," he saysa technique in which an officer verbally disarms a citizen without escalating tensions.
Inspector Maxwell acknowledges a need for this kind of training. In fact, he says Philadelphia cops will be adopting "the courtesy concept" that has been successful for the New York City Police Department. Former NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton has been hired as a consultant to advise Philadelphia on areas like this one.
But philosophical change will be slow in coming, say observers, both in IAD and in the Philadelphia Police Department as a whole. Thornhill Cosby was president of Philadelphia's NAACP chapter in September 1996, when the settlement was negotiated, and was one of the plaintiffs who signed off on the agreement.
He praises Commissioner Neal for his attempts at reform, but hedges when asked to name specific improvements. "I must say the Philadelphia Police Department is trying, but there is quite a long way to go." Cosby says there remains a "small minority of rank-and-file officers" resistant to change within the department. "They want blood and guts treatment when people get out of line."
Not surprisingly, City Solicitor Johnson's view is significantly different. He sees the impacts of the settlement agreement filtering down through every level of the police department, changing culture from the highest leadership positions all the way to rank-and-file officers. Given the image problems that resulted from the 39th District scandal, good cops embrace the additional oversight, he says. "Any process that brings back the confidence of the public is welcome."
There exists a segment of Philadelphia's residents who distrust the police department to investigate its own officers, Johnson notes. "That is unfortunate for the officer who is wrongly accused because he will always have a cloud over his head." For this reason, cops should welcome a civilian review board, he says, pointing out that Philly's citizen commission exonerated "a number of officers" in 1997.
Gonzalez says he does not sense resentment towards Jordanas someone who reviews their workon the part of IAD officers, as that they want to do better. "And you have got to credit Chief Inspector Maxwell with that."
No matter how committed Maxwell and others in IAD might be to weeding out bad cops, investigators are prevented from doing their jobs when faced with a lack of candor from officers under interrogation. Frequently, when an officer testifies against another officer, he becomes ostracized. Therefore, many cops would prefer to just keep quiet.
A pervasive feeling of "wanting to protect one's own" runs through the Philadelphia Police Department. Eisenhower, the attorney for the Police Advisory Commission, says he sees cops covering for each other all the time. "In cases we've looked at, and particularly in hearings, we have seen an unfortunate trend of untruthfulness among police officers."
A recent case in point involves a 6th District officer, William Kelly, accused of referring to a citizen as a "fag." Louis Lanni filed a complaint with the Police Advisory Commission in August 1995, alleging that he was discriminated against by the police department because he is gay. A hearing on his complaint was finally held this past Oct. 21.
During testimony, two other 6th District officers who responded to the same police call as KellyGary Burrell and Dennis Anderjczaktestified that at no time did they overhear Kelly call Lanni a "fag." However, their testimony contradicted that of Lanni's neighbors, Richard Vitale and Marjorie Rand, who both said they witnessed Kelly making the derogatory remark.
After reviewing the testimony, the Police Advisory Commission determined that Kelly had indeed violated Lanni's rights by referring to him as a "fag." More significantly, however, panel members found unanimously that Officers Burrell and Anderjczak had testified falsely. The commission made a recommendation to Commissioner Neal that all three cops be suspended from duty for 10 days.
"The commission firmly believes that until police officers throughout the ranks learn that lying in official investigations will bring harsh consequences... then the temptation to deny and cover up inappropriate conduct will be forever perpetuated," wrote Jane Dalton, president of the commission, in a Nov. 25, 1997, letter to Neal.
At presstime, Neal had not responded to the panel's recommendation.
Eventually, punishing officers for lying under questioning will begin to have an impact, Kluge believes. If enough officers are suspended without pay for covering up for their colleagues, cops will begin to change their attitude toward the practice, he says. "The best way to someone's heart is to reach into his pocket."
Jordan says increased oversight of IAD by his office and the courts has encouraged officers to speak out against one another. But, he notes, it's much easier to get a cop to detail a criminal offense committed by a fellow officersuch as accepting bribesthan it is to get information on excessive use of force.
Still, since beginning his post, Jordan has seen some progress. He says some cops now realize if they cover up for corrupt colleagues, they could be hurting themselves.
The police department will never achieve a "super-high level" of internal complaints, but Jordan says there was a time when law enforcement agents would "never" have snitched on one another. An important counterpart to the 39th District scandal, he says, is that cops realized the corrupt behavior of their colleagues tainted the whole force. The bottom line is to prevent cops from becoming abusive in the first place, not punish officers for it after the fact.
Back in his Center City office, Jordan continues to work on his February report. He's waiting for an early draft to return from a "confidential internal review." From there, a revised draft will be sent to Mayor Rendell and Commissioner Neal for comments.
What happens to that version of his report? We will have to wait and see just how far-reaching his recommendations are, and if they will actually have an impact on IAD.
Above all, Jordan emphasizes that he's trying to maintain a measured, objective stance.
"I'm not out to hurt Commissioner Neal or the department. My job is not just to hunt for bad things but to ensure the quality of the investigations."