After nearly 25 years in the Philadelphia Police Department, DeShawn Beaufort was in an enviable position.
In November, he was promoted to chief inspector, the department’s third-highest rank, and put in charge of Internal Affairs, a division that has its hands full investigating police officers accused of crimes and other misconduct.
The assignment seemed a good fit for Beaufort, 43, who had spoken publicly in the past about his frustration with scandals that made it difficult for cops to rebuild relationships with residents who inherently distrusted them. His enthusiasm for police accountability even helped him land this year on a short list of candidates for the police chief’s job in Miami.
But in February, Beaufort was involved in a road-rage incident in Bucks County, and Internal Affairs officers were faced with investigating their new boss.
The fast-moving probe resulted in Beaufort’s being transferred out of Internal Affairs, and his promotion to chief inspector was denied while in his probationary period. He has been reassigned to the Southwest Police Division, at a lower salary.
Sgt. Eric Gripp, a Philadelphia police spokesperson, declined to comment on the circumstances of Beaufort’s move, other than to confirm that Internal Affairs had conducted an investigation that involved an off-duty incident with a motorist outside of the city.
“He was promoted to chief inspector and assigned to Internal Affairs,” Gripp said. “But he has since been placed back to his rank of inspector.”
The action was effective Monday morning.
Beaufort, reached by phone, declined to comment.
In February, Beaufort reported to Lower Southampton police that he was pulling out of a CVS parking lot when a man driving a Lincoln Town Car had almost struck him, then made an obscene gesture and threatened him, according to Bucks County Court records.
Police later apprehended the man, identified as Vincent Troffo, 31, of Trevose, and found a “pipe wrapped in electrical tape that formed a club” with a makeshift handle in the car, the criminal complaint states.
Troffo was charged with making terroristic threats and carrying a prohibited weapon. His attorney, Michael Kotik, declined to comment when reached by phone earlier this week. A scheduled Wednesday preliminary hearing for Troffo was continued.
It is unclear from the criminal complaint what led Internal Affairs in Philadelphia to open an investigation into Beaufort, or what wrongdoing it sustained.
Beaufort’s former duties in Internal Affairs are currently being split among the inspectors who worked under him, according to Gripp, the Philadelphia police spokesperson. His transfer comes at a busy time: At least 10 police officers have been arrested since January on charges that span the crimes code, from alleged off-duty threats and sexual assaults, to lying under oath and stealing cash during a drug raid.
In a 2019 interview with The Inquirer, Beaufort described the animosity he felt as a young man toward police who beat up residents in his Mount Airy neighborhood; some of those officers, he said, were involved in the 39th District scandal, which saw six cops plead guilty to robbing and framing citizens.
“I hated cops,” he said at the time. “Couldn’t stand them.”
Years later, Beaufort returned to the area as a high-ranking officer, in charge of overseeing the entire Northwest Police Division, and pleaded with young men who were at risk of losing their lives to the city’s gun violence epidemic: “This has to stop. We’re burying you guys.”
While applying for the job as chief of the Miami Police Department — which later went to then-Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo — Beaufort in January described policing as “at a precipice,” according to the Miami Times.
“It has to change,” Beaufort said during a January forum involving the eight finalists, “and we have to be held more accountable, and holding ourselves more accountable as an agency.”