What to Know
- Philadelphia's police union filed a lawsuit against the city's D.A., police commissioner and mayor over the "problem cops" list.
- The list was of 66 officers aimed to keep certain Philadelphia police officers off the witness stand because of alleged wrongdoing.
- The lawsuit contends that the D.A. is combing through thousands of officers’ personnel files with the intent to add more names to the list.
Philadelphia’s police union filed a lawsuit against the city's district attorney's office, mayor and police commissioner Tuesday over a list that aims to keep certain officers off the witness stand because of alleged wrongdoing.
Mayor Jim Kenney, District Attorney Larry Krasner and Police Commissioner Richard Ross were all named in the suit filed by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, which represents about 6,500 officers.
A list of 66 officers was obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News back in March. The list was in two groups: 29 officers whose serious misconduct rendered them problematic as witnesses and 37 others whose offenses were less serious. Those 37 could still testify, but their legal issues had to be shared with defense attorneys.
The list was drawn up by prosecutors in 2017 at the order of former District Attorney Seth Williams, who ended up resigning in June 2017 after pleading guilty to corruption. Williams created a special police misconduct committee before resigning to identify officers whose testimony might be problematic in criminal cases.
The lawsuit contends that Krasner is combing through thousands of officers’ personnel files with the intent to add more names to the list. It accuses Kenney, Krasner and Ross of failing to create due process protections for officers and harming the reputations of officers on the list. It asks the court to find that the officials violated officers’ rights and wants it to prevent the mayor and police commissioner from helping Krasner unless due process protections are implemented.
Ben Waxman, a spokesman for Krasner, said the office hasn’t seen the lawsuit and could not comment. A message seeking comment from Kenney wasn’t returned Tuesday. A spokesman said Ross would not be commenting.
John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia police union, said the Fraternal Order of Police has tried and failed to get information from the district attorney’s office about how the list works, how officers get on it and how they can, or if they can, get off it.
He said there should be some protocol in place for such a list.
“We want to find out what’s going on, Krasner is affecting multiple lives, just by the stroke of a pen,” he said. “I’m hoping they will throw this list out and put up some guidelines that everybody can adhere to.”