By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw says she will not resign. She defended herself and the department Thursday after a scathing report from City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart that faulted city leaders for being unprepared for last year’s protests on racial injustice.

“Of course, some of the findings contained in both reports are difficult to face. However, the PPD is a learning organization and reports such as these provide us with an opportunity to gain a better understanding of previous shortcomings,” Outlaw said.

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Outlaw’s defense of her actions comes on the heels of Wednesday’s report by an independent firm commissioned by the City Controller’s Office — the second report released.

It revealed new details about Outlaw’s decisions surrounding using tear gas on demonstrators during civil unrest in late May and early June of last year.

“The decision to use tear gas was not predetermined ahead of the initial demonstration. Many of the incidents from this time period are still under review,” Outlaw said.

The scathing report also referenced that the police commissioner was on scene during the time protesters took over I-676 and claims she didn’t take command of the escalating situation.

“I was very present both inside of our EOC, out in the field,” Outlaw said. “I was present, our commanders were present, there was a lot going on.”

It was a forceful denial from the commissioner who says she has not been asked to resign in light of the recent report and has no plans to do so in the future.

“Am I enough? Absolutely and some. Do I deserve to be here? Absolutely and some. Did I lead this department in the last year? Absolutely and some,” Outlaw said. “No police commissioner, chief, superintendent has ever had to deal with what we dealt in the past year. And quite frankly, I think we are not only moving into 2021 stronger, but we’re doing a good job with what we have.”

Mayor Jim Kenney took to social media to support Outlaw.

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“To be clear–yesterday’s report does not change my full support for Commissioner Outlaw. No police commissioner in our city’s history has handled as many crises on their first six months of the job as she has. We’ve acknowledged mistakes and will drive improvements,” Kenney tweeted. “I appointed Commissioner Outlaw because of her commitment to true and lasting reform, and she deserves the city’s support to make that a reality.”

 

Despite the scathing report, the city controller offered recommendations to make sure this never happens again.

Among the recommendations is to make the Office of Emergency Management a standalone agency, improve intelligence distribution, commit to a community policing and outreach model to build trust with the community, and equip specialized units, like SWAT, with body cameras. They also recommend updating the police department’s use of force policy to include when and when not to use tear gas.

“We need to say that it must be used only in the most extreme situations where life is in danger and not for general crowd control,” Rhynhart said.

A spokesman for the City of Philadelphia said in a statement, “We reject her unsubstantiated claims that the Mayor and members of his Administration did not exercise ‘leadership.’” The statement goes on to say, “The Mayor and Police Commissioner have previously owned up to mistakes made, and committed to reforms that are ongoing.”

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