Philadelphia police leaders will meet July 10 with the U.S. Department of Justice to discuss the first stage of a federal review of the department's lethal force policies, Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey announced Tuesday.
As Philly.com first reported last month, police-involved shootings in 2012 rose to their highest level in a decade even as the rate of violent crime continued to plummet. Philadelphia police shot 52 suspects last year. Of those shot, 15 people died. The sheer number of bullets fired at civilians also climbed last year to 474, more than double the 211 rounds police squeezed off during Ramsey's first year.
In April, Ramsey said the department followed best-practices and saw no need to reevaluate the use of deadly force.
Of the statistics, he then said, "The numbers fluctuate from year-to-year."
Following the story on Philly.com, he announced he had invited the DOJ to the city to conduct a review.
Philadelphia in recent years has had one of the highest rates of shootings by police in the nation. In recent years, the rate of shootings — when measured against the numbers of violent crime — has topped other major cities for which data is available: Dallas, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Last week, Ramsey and two deputy commissioners met for a preliminary session with Associate U.S. Attorney General Tony West and COPS acting director, Joshua Ederheimer at the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in Washington D.C.
"This is just the first step in a process that will last approximately eighteen months," Ramsey said Tuesday in a statement.
Philadelphia brass will meet again with DOJ officials in July to determine how the review will proceed.
In an interview in May, Ederheimer praised Ramsey as a reformer. Police training procedures will be reviewed "from soup-to-nuts," Ederheimer said, and he expects any recommendations made by the Department of Justice to be adopted.
"We're not just hiring a firm," Ederheimer told Philly.com. "DOJ is running the review. … We're the ones who have the final say and are responsible for the report.
"Nobody, not Commissioner Ramsey, not the Philadelphia Police Department, not the mayor will be making the final decisions about what the recommended reforms are. Nobody is going to tell us our findings. We're going to make those findings independently with the information we gather."
The review will be similar to that conducted by the DOJ in Las Vegas after that department saw an increase in police shootings. Along with COPS, the civil rights division of the DOJ will participate in the Philadelphia review.