Last night, mayoral hopeful and ex-City Council member Jim Kenney won the coveted -- by politicians, anyway -- endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5. Here's what Kenney said on his Twitter feed today: "I'll work with police to end practices like stop-and-frisk that drive a wedge between citizens & police."
If that strikes you as a non-sequitor, I agree. I -- and some other folks I've spoken with today -- were a little surprised that the FOP backed Kenney, who's positioned himself mostly on the left of the Democratic primary field. Kenney, after all, is the guy who led the push to decriminalize marijuana, and his stated policy on the racially divisive practice of stop-and-frisk would be a big step forward for Philadelphia. One of his rivals, you'll recall, is former DA Lynne Abraham -- "America's Deadliest DA," the woman that cop's cop Frank Rizzo forever branded as "one tough cookie." But the law-and-order icon got only two votes -- two! -- from the 72-member board of the FOP, trailing not only their overwhelming vote for Kenney but also state Sen. Anthony Williams, who was a distant second place.
That said, I'm not sure that Kenney's opposition to stop-and-frisk is that big a deal for either the FOP leadership or the rank-and-file. The real hard work of bringing Philadelphia policing into the 21st Century (kicking and screaming all the way) is a) stronger civilian review than what we now have and b) a complete overhaul of the review system that makes it so easy for disgraced cops to win their jobs back.
If Kenney wins -- you'd still have to rate him a slight underdog against Williams at this point -- it will be interesting to see if this son of a Philly firefighter can actually challenge the police union where it counts, on these issues. That would be what these days they call a "Nixon-in-China" moment -- and it would be long overdue.