When State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams read about the promotions this month of three Philadelphia police officers who have previously been accused of misconduct, he was stunned.
Then, he got angry.
“It is just disgusting on every level,” he said Saturday. “Nobody seems to comprehend how the people affected by this would be outraged. We’re outraged. This is insulting.”
In a letter sent this week to Christine Coulter, the city’s acting police commissioner, Williams asked that the officers’ promotions be rescinded.
“It is beyond comprehension that the department would risk further damage to its credibility at this time to promote three officers who lack the necessary judgment to effectively carry out their duties and responsibilities to Philadelphia’s diverse population,” he wrote.
Williams said he was referring to three officers named in a report from the Philadelphia Tribune — Thomas Tolstoy and Cindy Caine, who were promoted from officers to sergeants, and Edward Pisarek, who advanced from sergeant to lieutenant.
Tolstoy has previously been named in news accounts and lawsuits as having engaged in alleged sexual assault. Caine was arrested in Florida for allegedly pushing a sheriff’s deputy, but prosecutors declined to bring charges.
Pisarek was one of the officers listed in a database of police this summer who critics said posted offensive material to social media.
Williams said the promotions send a chilling message.
“It’s an overt message that the old boys’ and old girls’ network we thought we moved past is still alive and kicking,” he said.
In a statement, mayoral spokesperson Mike Dunn said Mayor Jim Kenney — who is slated to choose a new police commissioner by year’s end — deferred to Coulter. He called Williams’ letter “political grandstanding” and suggested Williams push for legislation to make changes in the labor contract regarding police promotions.