Feb 2, 2022 - News

Nominees selected for Philadelphia's new police oversight commission

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A panel of city and community leaders has selected nine potential members of Philadelphia's new Citizens Police Oversight Commission.

Why it matters: Voters and the city approved the independent commission in the wake of the 2020 protests following the murder of George Floyd.

  • It's been hailed as an effort to improve police accountability and restore trust in the Philadelphia Police Department, which has a troubled history of policing Black and brown communities and has faced a series of scandals in recent years.

How it works: The new commission, made up of volunteers, will investigate police conduct, including use-of-force incidents and police-involved shootings, as well as citizen complaints against police.

  • The commission will have the power to subpoena police to participate in probes and can recommend charges and discipline against officers, among other things.

Driving the news: The nominees announced this week were chosen from roughly 320 applications, according to officials.

  • The prospective commissioners include Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner and Hassan Bennett, who was acquitted of murder charges in 2020 after spending years in state prison.

The seven other proposed members selected are: Haakim Peay, Jahlee Hatchett, Allan Wong, Maryelis Santiago, Rosaura Torres Thomas, Melanie DeBouse and John Solomon.

What they're saying: Mark Kelly Tyler, a member of the selection committee, said the nominees represent all parts of the city and include a diversity of ages and gender identification.

  • "It's going to be a very powerful commission … that's going to make a real change around the way in which policing is done," said Tyler, who's the pastor at Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church.

City Councilmember Curtis Jones, who spearheaded the creation of the new commission, said in a released statement that the diversity of the nominees "should aid them in performing their duties."

Between the lines: The Philadelphia City Council has final approval over the members of the new commission.

  • Legislators have yet to schedule a hearing on the appointments, said Joe Grace, a spokesperson for Council President Darrell Clarke.

What's next: The panel will hold a virtual community meeting on the nominees from 5-7pm on Monday before submitting their names to legislators for final consideration.


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