When word of Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw’s decision to cut and run was announced, I posted on Facebook that she may not have been an effective commissioner, but she was smart enough to read the writing on the wall.
Former Police Commissioners John Timoney (left), Charles Ramsey
Meaning the next mayor was going to fire her.
Police Commissioner is the most important hire the mayor gets to make, and the perception — right or wrong — was that Outlaw was ineffective, that homicides hit a record on her watch, that she was not hands’ on.
Most of the FB comments were anti-Outlaw, but one asked what any of us would have done differently.
My feeling is that developing a policing strategy is her job, not mine, and she failed to do it. But after a few days of reflection, I decided to answer the FB friend’s question. So here is the Byko Police Plan, much of which can be a to-do list for the next commish.
Let’s start with homicide, perhaps the most frightening crime, the one that gets the most headlines and TV airtime.
The Philadelphia Police Department’s clearance rate — meaning an arrest — is miserable. It is about 25% for Black victims, and 60-80% for white victims.
The difference in the racial clearance rates is staggering, especially since the homicide rate for Blacks is about four times that for whites. In Philadelphia, the overwhelming majority of murders are Black on Black, mostly linked with gangs or drugs.
Some blame the poor police performance on racism on the part of the cops, and there may be some of that. That’s always the first and easiest response from academics and the Left.
A huge problem, which I have written about before, is the notorious “don’t snitch” culture in
urban Black neighborhoods. It’s damn hard for cops to solve a murder without help from neighbors, many of whom know who the culprits are.
Do neighbors not talk because they are afraid of police? No. Gallup reports Black neighborhoods want more police, not fewer, providing, of course, they are good cops.
Neighbors don’t talk because they are afraid of the killers.
As a Black woman, and mother, Outlaw was uniquely qualified to go into the neighborhoods and demand accountability, and offer protection to witnesses.
Witness protection is usually the job of the D.A., but we know Larry Krasner won’t do that. He’s all for Black Lives Matter, except for when it really counts.
Outlaw should have made a deal with the U.S. Attorney to find a way to prosecute homicide, taking it out of Krasner’s hands.
Outlaw acted as if she were handcuffed, and to a degree she may have been by Woke-addled, spineless Mayor Jim Kenney, but that’s where leadership comes into play.
If Kenney wouldn’t back her, she should have turned in her badge on the spot.
Murder is the big picture, routine lawlessness is the small picture.
By that, I mean everything from shoplifting, to drug sales, to illegal homeless encampments, to wild ATV and dirt bike rides, to the Naked Bike Ride. Looking away from the “small” crimes inevitably leads to bigger crimes.
Indecent exposure happens to be a crime. Instead of providing a police escort for the NBR exhibitionist goons, Outlaw should have arrested them.
Homeless encampments on private property are illegal. She should have cleared them and challenged the City Council to come up with plans to help the homeless. Where to house them? How about the former Roundhouse?
Same thing for drug sales and shoplifting.
Arrest and publicly call out Krasner for refusing to do his job.
The out-of-control ATVs, dirt bikes, and the like, authorize officers to grab a few, when it can be done safely, use choppers or drones to follow the bad boys home, then swoop in, confiscate and destroy their vehicles.
Do that a couple of times and watch the problem vanish.
We need more cops, especially Black cops, but it very hard to recruit them, even before the George Floyd riots.
While we wait for an answer, I would have practically no uniformed officers doing desk work. Sworn officers should be in the field, doing police work, while reports, filing, and such could be done by civilians, paid less than officers, with an emphasis on employing minorities and the handicapped. And make sure that cops on the sick list are actually sick.
Former Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told me he had recruiters going to Black colleges and universities, but those graduates could earn far more in private business, and not risk their lives. “Who wants to be a cop?” he asked.
The police commissioner should be highly visible, day and night, and use the office as a bully pulpit. The commish also has to develop a good working relationship with the FOP, which can be challenging.
The commish needs to publicly praise the work of good cops and decry the deeds of bad cops. Good cops should do the same, and the commissioner has to explain why the Blue Wall of Silence hurts police.
It is not a job for the faint of heart, but it can be done. Ramsey and John Timoney proved it.