Philadelphia police officers arriving for their shifts this week have been watching a video message from Mayor Nutter about policing in the wake of widespread protests over grand jury decisions in the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white officers in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.
In the video, a transcript of which was provided to The Inquirer, Nutter told officers he wanted to speak about "demonstrations, comments, public commentary, and resulting violence in the aftermath" of the grand jury decisions.
He praised police officers' successful efforts to cut down on crime, and pointed out that citizens' complaints against police had generally decreased over the last five years.
But he also addressed a "trust gap" between police and some residents, especially among minorities.
"I understand that many of you feel that police officers are being unfairly criticized by people because of the actions of others," he said. "Many African Americans and Latinos and other minorities feel that they are unfairly targeted, abused, and mistreated by some in law enforcement."
He told officers that they have "one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs in America" and that "people are not against policing - they are against bad policing."
Nutter encouraged officers to reach out to community members to build trust, and to use force only when "absolutely necessary."
Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, said that in the light of increased conversations about policing - and Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey's appointment to a presidential policing task force - "the mayor wanted to do something. He talked it over with the commissioner, and they agreed that would be a good thing to do."
Ramsey on Friday said he appreciated Nutter's video. He said he had expressed similar sentiments to recent Police Academy graduates.
"Don't go out with a sense that everyone is against you," Ramsey said he told the graduates. "People need you, and you need them."