Uncertified PHA Officers Patrolled the Streets

A mistake made by a Philadelphia Housing Authority could potentially force the department to put some criminals back on the streets.

A source close to the department told NBC10 dozens of PHA officers who didn’t have proper certifications patrolled Philadelphia for a few weeks beginning in July.

“If you’re not certified you may not have been properly trained,” said Temple University law professor Edward Ohlbaum. “And if you’re not properly trained you shouldn’t be running around with a gun licensed to use deadly force and lock people up.”

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NBC10 spoke to Nicole Tillman, a spokeswoman for the PHA, who confirmed some officers did not have certification. She did not reveal how many officers however. She also said the uncertified officers were  taken off the streets and reassigned.

“[[The recruits]] were assigned to various tasks including manning PHA’s command center and radio room,” she said.

Ohlbaum says the fact that uncertified officers were on the streets is cause for two major concerns.

“One is arresting the wrong guy, locking up an innocent guy,” he said. “And secondly, illegally arresting somebody who should have been arrested and then contaminating the crime scene in which the true criminal would walk away.”

Tillman says an administrative error caused the problem but would not say what the error was. She declined to comment on whether the officers made any arrests during their patrol. She did say however that the issue will be handled next week but declined to go into detail.

A source close to the department told NBC10 a ranking officer connected to the error has been disciplined.
 

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