Group of 9 chosen for Philadelphia's new Citizen Police Oversight Commission

A judge, domestic violence survivor and wrongfully convicted person are among the panelists

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A selection panel has nominated nine people to sit on Philadelphia’s new Citizen Police Oversight Commission. Pending community feedback, City Council must now confirm the slate of candidates.

The commission, whose main role is to hear and investigate complaints against Philadelphia police officers, replaces the Police Advisory Commission, which was seen as purely advisory, toothless and underfunded.

The citizen commission is one of the reforms to grow out of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020. It was created with a ballot question in the November 2020 election, when voters approved it.

Councilmember Curtis Jones, who sponsored the legislation to create the new commission, said the old one tried to promote accountability but lacked power and resources.

"They used to operate with a pittance of a budget, and it was almost designed for them to fail," said Jones.

Jones explained that the oversight commission will have investigators, staff and a $2 million budget.

"They will have all of those tools to provide a fair shot to complaints in Philadelphia," Jones added.

The nine members were chosen from more than 200 nominations. They are a diverse group from nine different police districts.

Among them is former Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Ben Lerner, who led criminal justice reform efforts early in the Kenney administration.

"In all the years that I’ve been involved in public service, this is by far Philadelphia’s best chance to do something about these long-standing issues," said Lerner. "I’m lucky to have a chance to be a part of it."

The group also includes a domestic violence survivor and someone who was wrongfully convicted.

There will be a virtual town hall on the panel on Monday, Feb. 7. Then City Council must confirm the choices.

Links:
- Sign up for the virtual town hall on Monday, Feb. 7
- Testify via e-mail: pac@phila.gov

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