Sep 21, 2023 - News

Philadelphia's police watchdog pays for help in new leader search

Illustration of a "hello my name is..." sticker shaped like a police badge.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Philadelphia's police watchdog will pay an outside firm to help the agency find a new executive director after the initial search imploded following infighting among commissioners.

Why it matters: The Citizens Police Oversight Commission has been trying to permanently fill its leadership void for more than a year, rebooting the process in June after three commissioners resigned over the board's decision to extend an offer to a former police officer.

Driving the news: Commissioners voted 3-2 on Tuesday to hire and pay $35,400 to Philadelphia-based firm Jane HR to conduct the new job search.

  • The firm is already under contract with the city so that'll help speed up the process, CPOC's lawyer Catherine Twigg said during the meeting.

Yes, but: Commissioners still couldn't offer a timeline of when they expect to have a permanent executive director in place.

The intrigue: Commissioners will still handle much of the "leg work" in the search, CPOC chairman Jahlee Hatchett said at the meeting.

Catch up quick: Interim executive director Anthony Erace has led CPOC since it was created two years ago.

  • He was one of five finalists in the last search and had the backing of a City Council member, but was passed over in favor of Richard Rivera, who's currently the police director in Penns Grove, New Jersey.
  • The decision to hire Rivera led to the resignations of three commissioners in May.

Between the lines: The commissioners argued that Rivera was barred from taking the job because of a city law preventing the watchdog from considering candidates employed by Philadelphia police or who were union members while working for a municipal or state police department.

  • Hatchett said at a previous meeting that there were "different interpretations" of the law, but agreed a new director search was needed because of the perception of unfairness.

Be smart: Commissioners didn't offer any insight into whether former police officers are eligible to apply this go-round.

  • Rivera tells Axios that he intends to re-apply.
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