MOST PHILLY COPS do it right. One shift after another, they put their lives on the line for people they don't know. They lock up the bad guys and try to make it home to their families in one piece.
Some officers turn into bad guys themselves. They've lost their badges amid allegations of assault, theft, rape, fraud and drug dealing. At least 68 city cops have been charged with crimes since March 2009.
But Officer Philip Nace - the YouTube sensation who has developed an international reputation as the angriest cop in the City of Brotherly Love - is perhaps the first Philly lawman to get benched for what a police spokesman described simply as "idiotic behavior."
Lt. John Stanford said yesterday that Nace has been pulled off the street amid an expanding Internal Affairs probe sparked by viral videos out of North Philly's 25th District, where the 46-year-old cop patrolled with an iron fist and a foul mouth.
"Nace is nasty," said Louis Goode, 55, who has lived on the corner of Park Avenue and Auburn Street for 30 years. "It's like he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed every morning."
Goode lives on the same corner where Nace was recently recorded knocking down a basketball hoop and telling the guys with the ball to "have a good day" as he drives away in a police van. "Jesus loves you," Nace's partner yells out the window.
It apparently wasn't the first time Nace toppled the $450 adjustable hoop, which is now broken.
"He comes out here and harasses people all the time. . . . Nace is a bully," said the 21-year-old who shot the video. He asked that his name not be printed because he's afraid Nace would retaliate. He said Nace had previously banged his head against a truck.
Internal Affairs investigators were on the corner yesterday, interviewing the man who shot the video and taking a photo of the basketball setup. Lt. Dan Bartlett of Internal Affairs confirmed that they were working the Nace case.
Last week, the Daily News reported that Nace was under investigation after he appeared in a YouTube stop-and-frisk video that featured him berating two pedestrians, telling one man he would "split your wig open" and calling the other a "f---ing dirty ass."
"We don't want you here, anyway. All you do is weaken the f---ing country," Nace says in the video. "How do I weaken the country? By working?" the man asked. "No, freeloading," Nace said. When the man said he's a server at a country club, Nace responded, "Serving weed?"
Neither man was charged with a crime, police confirmed yesterday. Both were released following Nace's profanity-laced tirade.
"We can assure the public that he is off the street. What you see in those two videos is certainly not what we teach," Stanford said of Nace. "It takes away from all the good things we've been doing as a department. Our crime numbers are down, but all of that is overshadowed when you have someone conduct themselves like this."
A police source said Nace, an officer since 2006, has been placed in the Differential Police Response Unit, a disciplinary unit where officers who are under investigation are often assigned.
The first Nace video went viral and has received widespread media coverage. Portions of the 16-minute clip were featured this week on ABC World News, drawing more attention to the controversial stop-and-frisk policy championed by Mayor Nutter. The American Civil Liberties Union says many of the stops are made without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.
Stanford said he hopes Nace's behavior won't affect the department's ability to solicit crime-solving tips from residents.
"We've made some valiant efforts to build better relationships with all communities in this city. This definitely puts a strain on that," Stanford said. "But this is one individual. Don't let this individual put it in your mind that this is how officers act. The vast majority of officers give the residents of this city 110 percent."
David Rosenberger, an exterior remodeler who works on Section 8 houses in Nace's district, said he now looks for the numbers on passing police cruisers, knowing that Nace's car could mean trouble.
"You're dealing with a freaking a--hole," Rosenberger said. "He is a prick, man."
Rosenberger, 30, of Lafayette Hill, said he's had run-ins with Nace and his partner, including a recent stop in which they accused him of trying to buy drugs near a property he was working on. He said Nace threatened him, saying that "the dealers and the addicts aren't the only ones that will rob and beat you" as he was driving away. Rosenberger said Nace's partner threatened to crack him over the head with his baton.
"If I see the number on the car, I know if I'm getting harassed or not," Rosenberger said. "I'm sick of it."
Nace's Internal Affairs file includes a 2011 complaint by a driver who said Nace gave him a ticket and verbally abused him after the driver honked his horn to let Nace know he was about to hit him. When the driver went to district headquarters to file a complaint about the road rage, Nace allegedly pulled up and said, "I do not give a f---," and began laughing, according to the complaint. Nace denied the allegations, and the complaint was not sustained.
Nace was also named with other officers in a 2010 complaint that alleged physical and verbal abuse, but the complainant didn't cooperate in the investigation.
The videos have sparked outrage on YouTube, Twitter and other websites. Nace's home address has been posted online. Some viewers have issued threats. Nace could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Stanford said the investigation would determine what disciplinary action would be taken and whether Nace would be transferred to another district.
"It's not something that's going to be tolerated," Stanford said. "The fact that a second video was brought to our attention, there are obviously some issues here."