PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An independent report released Wednesday afternoon blasted Philadelphia’s response to its handling of the protests and civil unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd. One of the key findings in the 110-page report essentially says city leaders knew protests and civil unrest happened in other cities for at least a week, but they didn’t expect it would happen in their own backyard.
For several days in May and June after the death of Floyd, Philadelphia police were overwhelmed by massive protests, looting and arson.
The firm Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads that reviewed the city’s response wrote in a report released Wednesday afternoon, “The PPD was short of manpower and equipment and worked with an ineffective operations plan to address larger than expected protests and civil unrest.”
Eyewitness News spoke with the report’s expert on policing on Wednesday.
“Where they failed is while they had a plan for the demonstration they did not anticipate because they hadn’t experienced it before, they did not anticipate that it would get to the point where it was looting and violence and all these other things,” Robert White said, “even despite the fact that they knew it was going on around the rest of the country. They still said ‘yeah, we hadn’t experienced that.”
“Between the looting and the arson, there was a lot of property damage. Could that have been avoided following these protests?” Eyewitness News asked White.
“I would I don’t think it would been avoided, I would say some of it could have been mitigated,” White said.
Some of the 70-plus recommendations in the report include updating training concerning crowd control and emphasize deescalation as an alternative to the use of force.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw issued a statement about the report, saying changes are already underway.
“As I said from the beginning when I requested that this review take place, it is often difficult to take a look in the mirror and see areas that need improvement, and to that end, I wish to thank the members of our department who provided honest and candid interviews to the group,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement. “While the analysis itself is extensive, I am pleased to report that a number of the recommendations contained within are already underway. Myself and the PPD executive team are in full agreement with the changes suggested by the group, and we remain committed to working with our partners and stakeholders to come up with creative solutions that will help put these recommendations into action.”
Mayor Jim Kenney said the police department remains committed to “rebuilding trust with the residents of Philadelphia.”
“The report, in my view, provides a comprehensive blueprint for long-lasting police and emergency response reform in the city. I look forward to implementation of the recommendations — especially those related to use of force — and I’m confident the Commissioner will work aggressively toward this,” Kenney said. “I fully accept the criticisms in the report of how our administration conducted itself this past summer. This report will enhance ongoing reforms of the Department, as well as our larger Pathways to Reform, Transformation, and Reconciliation initiative, whose aim is nothing less than the eradication of systemic racism in this city. Black and Brown residents of Philadelphia have suffered too long. With this report, the path ahead is clear, and I am committed to following it no matter how difficult — because their pain, evidenced in stark relief this past summer, must end.”
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