"Not the Police Advisory Commission" would have been one accurate subtitle. The PAC, as Thompson observed, is almost farcically ineffective. Though it has subpoena powers, the body has held an average of just over one actual hearing on matters of citizen complaint per year. It has not published an annual report for four years. Recently, according to Commissioner Veronica Castillo-Perez, the PAC boldly acted to hire someone who could conduct interviews in Spanish. Spanish, for crying out loud.
The PAC is notoriously slow at closing cases, and it's unclear how many cases the board actually meaningfully reviews at all: not clear because the PAC publishes almost none of its findings and refused a Right to Know request by Thompson to disclose its records — any of them.
Which makes one wonder what, exactly, Mayor Michael Nutter meant when he told WHYY this week, with a straight face, that "as far as I can tell, they're up and operating and doing their job." Of course, it was then-Councilman Nutter's legislation that created the advisory commission in the first place: Perhaps it's paternal instinct.
Less protective is Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., who broached the issue of police brutality in Council hearings, and whose legislative agenda for 2012 called for reforms to the Police Advisory Commission — including such radical proposals as making them actually write that annual report and put actual information in it. So far, the legislation hasn't surfaced yet — but Jones seems intent on doing something. And when it comes to the Police Advisory Commission, that's something indeed.