HBG Police General Orders

Once upon a time, the city promised to post the General Orders for Harrisburg police, but we beat them to it. Since the police union contract passed 5-2 in City Council on Tuesday, 5/23/17, without any of the changes we’ve been demanding since late 2015, it’s time we delve into the orders that define policy and direct procedures.

GENERAL INDEX

GENERAL ORDER 02-08 (Special Ops)
GENERAL ORDER 02-23 (Vice Drugs and Organized Crime) REDACTED
GENERAL ORDER 02-24 (Liaison)
GENERAL ORDER 02-26 (Uniforms and Grooming)
GENERAL ORDER 02-28 (CRT Activation)
GENERAL ORDER 02-36 (Inspectional Services)
GENERAL ORDER 02-40 (Line of Duty Injuries or Death)
GENERAL ORDER 02-46 (Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy)

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Police Union Contract in Harrisburg City’s Hands

Since late 2015, we have been advocating for accountability agreements in the police union contract that will build trust between police and residents and keep the city safe and fair. We have heard only radio silence from the police and mayor’s office to date.

Once again, we appeal to the Harrisburg Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge 12, Detective Jason Brinker, Harrisburg City Council and Mayor Eric Papenfuse.

This is a contract for PUBLIC servants. So HERE are some PUBLIC demands.

  • Harrisburg police officers should reside in Harrisburg (we are calling for a gradual restoration of the residency requirement).
  • In addition to all notarized complaints, anonymous complaints should be accepted and investigated by an independent agency or board. Complaint forms should be printed and made available at various neighborhood establishments.
  • The police bureau’s quarterly citizen complaints report for City Council, in accordance with City Code 3-301.4 (adopted in 1987 and amended in 2016), should be made public.
    City Council members, or an independent review board, should have the right to subpoena officers regarding informal and formal complaints.
  • Police trainings on emotional self-regulation, safe conflict de-escalation, anti-racism, and how to communicate with people experiencing mental illness should be scheduled regularly (frequency to be determined with an independent coalition of professionals, trainers and civilians).
  • Leadership should not be allowed to erase personnel files related to citizen complaints and/or suspensions. Complaints and suspensions should always remain on an officer’s record and should be available to the public via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Currently, the records of any suspension of 10 or more days are purged after five years. The records of any suspension of less than 10 days are purged after three years, unless the incident may become a subject of future litigation or investigation. Such records are preserved in the City Law Bureau files, however they are not a factor in future decisions regarding discipline or promotions within the bargaining unit.
  • No drone surveillance.
  • Body camera policies should not be written by the camera company. There must be public input and final review before any policy is put in place.

In the unfortunate event of police misconduct or shootings, we urge that:

  • Paid leave/desk-duty cannot be granted to officers who kill someone (there can always be back pay IF an independent agency finds the officer not guilty).
  • An independent agency or board should investigate and report on all cases where police kill or seriously injure civilians.
  • There can be no significant delay in the interrogation of officers being investigated for—or who were witness to—police misconduct. Representation, if desired, must be obtained within 24 hours.
  • There can be no restrictions on the amount of time an officer can be questioned for misconduct.
  • There can be no collaboration on use-of-force reports with officers who weren’t physically present (e.g., an officer cannot review dash-cam footage to help another officer write a report).
  • Harrisburg taxpayers cannot pay for any misconduct settlements.

Farm Show of Hands

Two years ago, members of TSTH held a die-in and silent protest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. Prior to the action, we received the center’s demonstrations policy that requires speech activities be confined to a small area outside. The Farm Show Complex (a government center with corporate partners) prohibits free speech indoors during public events, but it has always baffled me how you can ban a peaceful segment of the public at a public event.

Property rights, you scream. Bologna, I scream back.

courtesy pennlive

Lieutenant Turner-Childs of the state police, who was working the farm show that day, said we would be immediately asked to leave if we took our protest inside. If we didn’t cooperate, arrests would be made.

So after the die-in, we took ourselves inside because as members of the public, we were welcome to do so. State troopers were quick to follow us in, gathered near the doors, and waited. A middle-aged man later told me he was closely followed, and said he felt it was because he was black and wearing a backpack. Some of us meandered; others purchased potato donuts; others of course, milkshakes.

About fifteen minutes later, eight to ten of us assembled, making sure not to block any exits or pathways. We held our hands up, with the words “Don’t Shoot” written on them. We didn’t speak, we just stood silently.

courtesy pennlive

Within seconds, we were escorted out by state troopers. We walked slowly, single file, to the front door, our hands high in the air. When asked to walk faster, we said we wanted to keep pace with a black female protester who had severe arthritis.

On that short walk, white farm show patrons lobbed some terrible grunts and words at us. “Scum!” one cried. If we had been permitted to stay longer, we wonder what other things (food, dung) may have been hurled our way.

Two years later, animal rights activists continue to protest inside (and against) the Farm Show, and state police continue to extract them. Our protest was meant for consciousness-raising, to remind people of Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s recent tragic killings and what they represent about racial injustice and police violence in our country; to remind people that just because it was a new year, it was not a new Place. But people knew that – they were OK with that. And they did not like people who weren’t OK with that. They did not like to be confronted with Sharpie’d hands, pursed mouths, and synchronized bodies. That was too violent for them.

In 1981, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that Muhlenberg College could not “exercise its right of property to invoke a standardless permit requirement and the state’s defiant trespass law to prevent [people] from peacefully presenting their point of view in an area of the college normally open to the public.” The college had denied a group’s request for a permit to protest a campus speaker (the FBI Director), but the peace group Lepoco showed up any way.

The Supreme Court found that Muhlenberg College permitted the public to walk its campus freely and use many of its facilities. Muhlenberg College provided a public forum for the Director of the FBI, then a controversial figure. The Supreme Court found that the rights of LEPOCO to peacefully and unobtrusively express their belief that the public in general had been wronged by the FBI outweighed Muhlenberg College’s right to property. (faculty source psu.edu)

Although we were not protesting an exhibit or speaker that cold January afternoon, we were protesting overt and covert racism, often pervasive in white-dominated public forums. The people’s right to peaceful and unobtrusive expression should outweigh the government’s right to property. However, we know that the definition of what is or isn’t obtrusive is relative—and in our case, relatively revealing.

Transparency vs Accountability

It’s been two years since members of This Stops Today Harrisburg first approached our elected officials and police department. Spurred by the accounts and videos of state-sponsored violence carried out upon bodies and communities of color we have banded together in solidarity. Though our collective is made up of varying beliefs and ideologies, our members are committed to the fight for social justice and civil rights.

One aspect of this struggle is the conflict between our goals and those of the police state. Often we find ourselves rephrasing and repackaging the same argument. We demand independent civilian oversight of the police in order to achieve real accountability. We have researched, proposed reforms and sat in meetings with various officials and sadly, the response from Harrisburg Police Department (HPD), the Mayor, and city council hasn’t changed.

In response to our inquiries officials often pay lip service to the idea of “transparency”. This is unnecessary however, HPD and city government are being fully transparent. It’s obvious to identify their actions and intentions. Anyone who has seen the new city budget can tell that Harrisburg is more interested in expanding the surveillance state and ramping up expenditures on weapons than they are in implementing any type of reform. Anyone who has heard HPD’s public pronouncements can have little confidence that they even believe they need reform.

We demand accountability and concrete solutions not platitudes and surveillance, thinly veiled as transparency.  The city, while quick to cry poor when it comes to mental health training for example, has found the money to purchase body cameras and Tasers.  The body camera expenditure is particularly insidious.  Body cameras without civilian oversight are not transparency, they are surveillance.

We have seen the police response, nationally and locally, whenever an officer kills someone. Officers close ranks and local prosecutors selectively release information. For example, this year we learned of the tragic killing of Shaleek Pinckney by Officer Tony Elliott. The public never even learned Elliott’s name until a hastily called, day-after-election, press conference “news dump”. Are we supposed to believe that these same individuals would release incriminating body camera footage to the public before their “investigation” is complete? During his press conference, Mr. Marsico had time to review 14 incidents related to Mr. Pinckney’s past, yet we learned nothing about the city employee that had taken a young father’s life. Transparency indeed.

Actions betray the lies that we are often told when we confront elected officials. We know that there is money available for the police. Every time you see an officer with brand new Taser or a body camera, or a drone hovering in the sky, that is the proof. We know that city council and the city can negotiate with the police union to build real accountability. They choose not to.  In fact, they are choosing to outsource body camera policy to a private company. Together they will craft a policy without public knowledge, pass it into law and then congratulate themselves for the effort.

There can be no mistaking where the loyalties of our officials lie. Every step they take towards bolstering the police state is another step they must be pushed back. Why should public employees have their names and records obscured while the reputations of dead citizens are tarnished by District Attorney Marsico?  Why should an absent Mayor be entrusted to conduct an after-the-fact review, of the incident instead of a Citizens Review Board? Why would we trust a city council that would allow body cameras to be purchased and not even attempt to craft a policy for their use beforehand?

We shouldn’t and we don’t.

Justice should not be subject to the judgement of elected officials entrusted with investigating their colleagues. Real reform centers the rights of individuals and gives civilians the power of real oversight. Anything short of that is a fatal distraction from the heavy hand of the police state.

10 Points: End the Police State

In 2014, we came up with a 10-point platform that we’ve since revised. Here are 10 priorities involving the police and criminal injustice system, some old, some new, that we want to see happen in Harrisburg in 2017.

1. A Department of Justice investigation into the fatal police shooting of Earl Shaleek Pinckney, killed on August 7, 2016.

2. A Department of Justice investigation into the pattern and practice of civil rights violations by Harrisburg Police Department (HPD) and Dauphin County.

3. The formation of a civilian complaint review board that independently investigates all uses of deadly force by police, in addition to reports of brutality, corruption, harassment, and malfeasance.

4. An independent review of and any necessary reform to HPD’s policy on the use of deadly force, General Orders, and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union contract (see our FOP demands here).

5. The appointment of special state prosecutors for any alleged police misconduct.

6. The development and implementation of community-sanctioned policies to protect citizens from the misuse of all HPD surveillance technologies (body cameras, drones, residence cameras, etc.). These policies should also ensure that the public has full access to the footage.

7. City Council legislative action prohibiting HPD’s acquisition of military vehicles, weapons, and hardware.

8. Ongoing police training focused on emotional self-regulation, mental illness, safe conflict de-escalation, and anti-racism with report-backs to the community.

9. An independent review of and any necessary reform to HPD’s recruiting and hiring policies, as they relate to diversity issues and the need for psychological evaluations and implicit racial bias testing for all candidates. Results would be made public when an officer is hired, and tests would be re-administered and reported on each year.

10. An independent review of and subsequent report on HPD’s relationship with Dauphin County including the Crisis Response Team, which has received assault rifles through the free Department of Defense program.

Police State in the State’s Capital

While City Council, the Mayor, and Harrisburg Police Department (HPD) publicly state that they are interested in transparency and building public trust, they engage in actions that undermine the public trust. Last month, unbeknownst to residents, HPD tested drone surveillance technology in the city.

Lieutenant Kelly Wetzel commissioned a drone demonstration from a private company, Flying Monkey Aerial Videography, that took place on September 21. Chief Thomas Carter had previously authorized Wetzel to conduct inquiries into drone information.

According to HPD, an officer decided to divert the drone during the demonstration to investigate an incoming call about a potential “jumper” from the Market Street Bridge. They claim that while searching for this “jumper,” they came across a citizen sitting by the river. A patrol unit (two officers) approached the individual, and, according to the Mayor and HPD, they asked him about someone jumping from the bridge.

We know for a fact, however, that this person was never asked about a jumper.

Had the owner of Flying Monkey, Gordon Bennett, not posted the video on Youtube, citizens would have never learned of the drone component of this interaction. The problems with drone technology were exposed immediately.

This encounter illustrates that drone technology must be acknowledged as surveillance technology. At the very least, drones are able to transmit real-time images. They are also capable of recording and storing information. We saw evidence of this — a citizen on his work break was recorded without his knowledge per instruction by the police. While this video was not posted by police, the drone was being demonstrated on their behalf.

Drones, like body cameras, are not the answer to safer police-community interactions (read: intimidation and brutality free). They create a heightened level of fear and anxiety for people, especially those who are already hovered over and marginalized.

We demand that HPD suspend inquiries into drone information once and for all. We also demand that the city put forth detailed protocol for body camera usage and allow residents to discuss and revise that information in a public forum and ultimately put body camera implementation to a vote. We have already witnessed across the nation how body cameras are being manipulated or “fail to work” in certain cases.

TSTH

In case you missed it: Local Black Lives Matter Group Urges “NO” Vote on Police Anonymity Bill

We have learned after a summer of delays, the police secrecy bill is up for a vote in the Capitol chambers this Monday 10/17/16. This bill pushes our society unequivocally further into a dangerous authoritarian realm. A sign of the times, we will not be silent.

Please see press statement from March 7, 2016 on the matter.
————————————————————————–

This Stops Today Harrisburg (TSTH) is an autonomous, action-oriented, social justice and community activist group formed as a part of the Black Lives Matter international grassroots network. We seek police accountability and restorative justice.

We oppose PA Senate Bill 1061 and PA House Bill 1538, which prohibit officials and public employees from releasing the name of a law enforcement officer when their service weapon is fired or excessive force is used, until they are charged with a criminal offense. These bills, sponsored by Representative Martina White and Senator John Rafferty (among others), serve to undermine the essential work of the Pennsylvania Black Lives Matter movement to demand transparency and accountability of public servants within police departments.

This is a direct retaliation from our elected officials to the Black Lives Matter movement, and to TSTH’s demands for common-sense reform to ensure public safety and clarity in law enforcement processes. These bills will tear down the bridge of trust we hoped to construct between law enforcement and the community at large.

These bills are an attempt to hide and obscure individual police crimes and keep the public blind to police misconduct. These bills are designed to permit officers and entire departments to elude public accountability.

This is biased and intolerable. We take this retaliation personally and we will not be silent. TSTH affirms that police officers should be afforded no more right to anonymity than any other person in the Commonwealth. This is especially true with regard to violent crime. If they are not accountable to the public, they cannot be called public servants.

We call on Senator Rob Teplitz, Mayor of Harrisburg Eric Papenfuse, Harrisburg Police Chief Thomas Carter and Harrisburg City Council to publicly denounce these bills in order to preserve transparency in governance. We commend Representative Patty Kim for her vote of “NO.”

We invite all citizens of Pennsylvania who share our indignation at this attempt to circumvent the police accountability movement to contact their state Senator and demand them to vote “NO” to Senate Bill 1061 and House Bill 1538. Visit www.PASEN.GOV to find your Senator and demand a “NO” vote before session begins March 14, 2016.

Sign this petition today to raise your voice in opposition to these bills and let your Senator know they must vote “NO” to Senate Bill 1061 and House Bill 1538.

[Please see enclosed ACLU statement]aclu-fact-sheet-hb-1538-feb-2016-revised-3-4-16

Email: ThisStopsTodayHBG@gmail.com

Twitter: @StopsTodayHBG | Facebook: This Stops Today Harrisburg (public group)

Reactions from City Council Meeting on 9/28/16

On 09/28/16, This Stops Today Harrisburg members attended a Legislative Session held by Harrisburg City Council. All City Council members were present  (with the exception of Jeff Baltimore, who was absent due to illness). Mayor Papenfuse and Police Chief Carter were also in attendance.

To watch the meeting, click here! Our collective presented our demands early in the meeting- the time stamp for this begins at 5:40 . Towards the end of the meeting, City Council questions Chief Carter and Mayor Papenfuse about “The Drone Incident” that occurred to one of our members- the time stamp for this conversation begins at 58:38.

Some of the TSTH members took the time to jot down their reactions to the meeting. Here’s what some of us had to say:

Anonymous A:

TSTH took up one side of the room. We had a big presence, we did not stand for the pledge. Members read clear demands (check them out here: citycouncilaction9-28-16while other members filmed. Ms. Kim (mother of Shaleek Pinckney, man who was killed by police in August 2016) stepped out of the room when one member who presented started to talk about the call for a DOJ investigation into Shaleek’s murder. The reading was well-executed and powerful.

Cornelius Johnson reported out about the previous Public Safety meeting and said they talked about these demands with TSTH. He said there are some “misconceptions.” I think that’s bull.shit. He said that only to discredit us, but we’ve done our research, and we realize that our world of laws and boundaries is human-made. Humans make, break and remake sociopolitical structures. The only misconception is that things can’t change.

Anonymous B:

Take-aways/notable moments from this meeting:

Ms. Kim said that she felt neglected and wished the mayor would have been more visible.

Cornelius gave committee report, when referring to last Council Action used the word “dialogue” a bunch. “Will continue a dialogue”  Defaulted back to prior arguments about what they “can’t do” because of “the law”.

President Williams is requesting gaming funds for MDT. Which is some type of mobile data unit for police vehicles.

Carter on drones:  Carter is interested in drones. An officer (Lt. Kelly R. Wetzel) contacted Flying Monkey Aerial Videography in order to get a consultation about drones. This consultation was taking place  when dispatch received texts from a person saying they were going to jump from the walking bridge. Sgt Lyda and Officer Harman were dispatched to that call.

Lt. Wetzel “decided to attempt to respond to Front Street for the purposes of trying to test this drone’s capabilities and at the same time aid in resolution of the matter” (said by Carter).

The officers saw no jumper, but did encounter our comrade. Carter- “is not sure what the conversation was. Obviously, he was not the person who had jumped because his clothes were not wet…”

Carter equated drones to body cameras. Repeatedly expresses interest in drones. Document states that Wetzel was authorized by Chief Carter “to conduct inquiries into drone information”

Carter “we do not spy on people, we don’t have the equipment to spy on people” (yet)

Mayor: Our mistake was not insisting that footage not be made public. Invoked privacy rights, equates to body cameras.

Solicitor: there are no current protocols for police using private citizens to conduct police work using drones. “We’re not there yet”

Carter: why does everyone want to be a victim? described the drone incident as “a friendly interaction with just questions”

Anonymous C:

I was only there for the beginning of the meeting. I heard about the discussion of the drone incident from members and then later watched the footage. I found it very troubling when Carter said, “… I want to break the confrontation between the community and the police. I want a kinder, gentler police agency but that is not going to happen if everybody always questions everything that the police is out there trying to do.

We are all allowed to question the police and their doings, especially when we feel their actions are not in the best interests of the people.  If Chief Carter wants a kinder, gentler agency, then this is something he should promote regardless of the extent of external pressure felt via ‘constant questioning”. Our police chief should NOT be suggesting that any lack luster (or un’kind’ or un’gentle’) performance carried out by HPD is in anyway a direct result of public opinion/questioning. Stop blaming others for your ineptitude and do better.

Anonymous D:

My reaction from the first part of the meeting that I was present for: it seems that the police chief is becoming uncomfortable by our continuing group presence.  I was not there for the later drone incident conversations, but my reactions on what I heard is that there are quite a few layers to this story, the police are either lying or they’re entirely inept at handling mental health crises, after they told us 2 weeks ago that they receive adequate training/ have adequate resources for handling mental health crisis situations! Either way, its not good for them.

 

 

Thank you for checking in with us!

-TSTH

So, we got an email…

Yep, that’s right. You heard me, we got an email and by golly was it underwhelming.  As a collective, we have been working very hard to take the time to speak, act, and think deliberately.  We have presented our list of demands to Harrisburg Police Department (also to HBG City Council and Mayor Papenfuse) and will continue to do so until our words no longer fall on deaf ears.  (If you’d like to see the list of demands that we have presented at city council meetings, you can find that here: citycouncilaction9-28-16).

Much like an unsettling and recurring dream, our experiences and interactions with Harrisburg Police Department have been disorienting, illogical, and generally, kind of weird. So, when we received an email from HPD’s Community Policing Coordinator and it read like a drunken text intended for his frat brother, it felt far too familiar… so bizarre and completely  disconnected from the reality we all exist in day to day.

We like transparency. So, we’d like to share that email, as well as the our public response.

Enjoy.

Email:

fullsizerender-1

 

Our Response:

Hello,

Yes, thanks for asking. We’d love to have coffee with you. We’ll take our coffee with lots of justice and two packets of transparency.

We will meet you in every neighborhood in Harrisburg. We will bring our own coffee and you can bring the justice and transparency.

Thanks for the offer. Nice to know you have time to want to play, but we live in the real world and are far too busy. We grew up, woke up, and realized that it is time to put childish things away. We are attending to a bleeding chest wound and band-aids are of no use to us right now (and neither are book giveaways and American signed flags). If you are concerned about your image and are looking for us to help you improve it, we suggest you reference our list of demands as a place to start.

Here’s to hoping,

This Stops Today Harrisburg

 

 

Reactions from City Council Meeting on 9/15/16

On 09/15/16, This Stops Today Harrisburg members attended a City Council Meeting for the Public Safety Committee. During this meeting the Public Safety Committee members (Cornelius Johnson, Westburn Majors, and Ben Allatt), Mayor Eric Papenfuse, Police Chief Thomas Carter, Sergeant Gabriel Olivera, and Police Captain Deric Moody were all in attendance to discuss actions taken/to be taken by the City of Harrisburg and Harrisburg Police Department to better protect our citizens. Some of the TSTH members took the time to jot down their reactions to the meeting. Here’s what some of us had to say:

DISCLAIMER: {We would like to acknowledge that this post is huge. A lot happened at this meeting and the thought of condensing all of these well formed reactions seemed to be a disservice to those who took the time to write them. Happy Reading!}

Anonymous A:

Mayor Papenfuse, Chief Carter, Captain Olivera, and the members of Public Safety Committee of City Council prove once again that they are entirely incapable of acting in the interest of the residents in Harrisburg by citing lack of money and external forces for the abuses of their Harrisburg police force.

As the FOP collective bargaining negotiations are underway, Harrisburg activist collective, This Stops Today Harrisburg, pressed these members of local governance for transparency in the negotiations and specific additions toward transparency in the police complaint records and processing of complaints and functional, holistic and ongoing training for police officers around mental crisis intervention, de-escalation, and emotional self-regulation.

All that was received was a series of excuses.

The Mayor continues to rely on the desire to spend money for excessive equipment as if that were a solution – while also leaning heavily on the lack of money in the budget; City Councilperson Johnson echoes the mayor’s ineptitude around the issues by describing grant writing work for items that are not at all attending to the culture of brutality in HPD’s force. Councilperson Allat echoes the finger pointing by saying Council can do nothing, higher legislative bodies are at work. The Captain skirts the problems with officer training by citing irrelevant stories; while Chief Carter in the deluded and self-martyring tactic we see often, attempts to distract from the systemic issue by taking all the blame.

All these excuses are meant to deflate and distract from the issue at hand – The Mayor, Chief, Captain and Council should be advocating for the simple changes to the FOP collective bargaining agreement that will ensure a long-term culture change and transparency in the HPD. These changes require no extensive work toward raising money, grant writing or buying new equipment. These changes can be sourced from the resources that already exist and already have been offered here in Dauphin County.

But they clearly won’t work for us at the bargaining table, and they will sure as shit tell you it’s not their fault.

Anonymous B:

“We shoot to eliminate the threat not to wound” (stated by member of HPD)  This sounds like a direct reflection of the visible militarization of HPD.

Chief Carter calls for ‘call of duty’ style simulation training instead of real de-escalation training. The training places officers in different scenarios where they must decide whether to use their taser, nightclub, or gun to kill.

One of the many problems is officers are not being trained to diffuse situations but instead are just taught what kind of force to use. So basically police officers will be trained in more diverse ways to brutalize the citizens instead of actually learning ways that it can better protect and serve. Chief Carter drew comparisons of HPD to soldiers in a war to defend the trigger happy culture of killer cops, showing how deeply flawed the view HPD has of it’s citizens. Instead of people who they are sworn to protect, we are deemed as participants in a war, meaning if any citizen is deemed to be a threat to the officer the threat is eliminated.

This is not an unfamiliar narrative. In West Virginia, officer Stephen Mader was fired for refusing to shoot a black man with an unloaded gun. Across the country and in Harrisburg officers are not only encouraged, but mandated to use lethal force. A pattern that I not disrupted will lead to more deaths by the hands of police.

Anonymous C:

There was discussion of  the utilization of a mobile unit for mental health related calls, we discussed the lack of interagency communication. Police claim to utilize the mobile unit.  However,  HPD failed to do so for Shaleek Pinckney (black Harrisburg resident recently killed by HPD) (news reported him as having mental health issues and recurring involvement with law enforcement and thus would have been a perfect opportunity to dispatch the mobile unit).

Having a “hard job” is not an acceptable excuse or reasoning for complacency and attempts to stifle social/political change.  Harrisburg is a small city that is a shining example of social, political and economic failure and I understand that this didn’t happen overnight and that it won’t be fixed overnight. With that said, remaining inflexible when it comes to implementing new policies and procedures and leaning on systems that are broken will not aid this city in it’s healing. When we appeal on behalf of Harrisburg’s most vulnerable, council, mayor and police are rigid in their belief that the rules are too complicated and impossible to change. However, when the rules need amended/changed/created for those investing in the city, rules are easily changed. Maybe we need to ask how much it costs to get the rules changed?

Police/Council/Mayor want to implement “public safety committee”, Carter stated at one point, that the individuals “chosen” for this committee must be “qualified”. If council/mayor/police are hand selecting the  would-be committee members and  responsible for defining “qualified”, my concerns are that they will choose people who are complacent and likely to go along with their agendas. How do we equalize the opportunity for appropriate representation in the aforementioned committee?

Concerning the police applying for grant to receive training program that will aid them in deciding what kind of force to use/extent of force to use:  Officer Moody stated that when this virtual reality program is obtained by HPD, that officers will be able to access it in their down time (I believe the example was 4am during the winter), so the program won’t even be mandatory. Essentially, officers will be able to play a round of Call of Duty when they’re bored, which we all know is unacceptable in light of how they were just complaining about being so short staffed (unable to maintain records/logs/unable to function entirely because they are so short staffed). I’m concerned about the psychologically implications involved in the usage of such technology, the dehumanization of these interactions (via the simulations) is not going to better prepare an officer for a hostile situation, it will only aid in further detachment and could potentially lead an officer to be more likely use excessive force when responding to a real world call.  Also, Officer Moody said they will be able to go back and study an individual officer’s metrics during the simulation and that they will be able to give feedback based on said metrics… wishful thinking for a department that can’t even maintain a cohesive log of complaints. 

Anonymous D:

I am appalled that for more than 30 years our city has failed to do anything about police-community relations or use of force policies. In 1987, the city statute regarding police was amended  by city council to require a yearly report by the police chief on police complaints. In 2009, city council created a police community relations group. Several months ago, city council required that the police chief make a report to council quarterly on citizen complaints against police. These are not just simple oversights, but rather an appalling miscarriage of justice and the highest abuse of public  trust.  This is an issue larger than three Mayors and countless city councils and police chief,  but rather  and illustration  of a serious overall structural problem within our city. These proposed changes were created because people died.  Clearly, people are continuing to die at the hands of police. This is unacceptable.  The Public Safety Committee members seem to think that the 2009 police Advisory Board proposal will soften the police’s image in the community and provide a way to work for trust. More than 450 people signed a petition requesting the development of a citizen complaint review board, not some Advisory board to make the police look good. We are not interested in softening the image of police. We want real reform. We want transparency.

Anonymous E:

I walked out of this meeting feeling that City Council, Mayor Papenfuse, and Chief Carter & Sergeant Olivera made far too many excuses. They were quick to pass the blame down to those before them, and often quick to dismiss any issues that we brought up as symptoms of a broken system that goes beyond any of their control. They seemed far too satisfied to sit there and tell us that they’re operating within a very flawed and broken system, while at the same time, displaying an unwillingness to get off of the fence and help us to work towards changing that flawed system. Eventually, they’re going to have to tell us whether they’re with us or against us, whether they’re happy operating within this system or want to help change it, because simply telling us that there’s nothing that they can do is unacceptable.

Anonymous F:

During the City Council Meeting, Captain Olivera unknowingly pointed out the lack of mental health awareness. While discussing mental health, a TSTH activist pointed out an incident that was witness involving police officers and two men with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are nonverbal.  When asked if HPD was prepared and trained on dealing with issues like this, Olivera responded that yes, HPD has experience in this area. He followed up by sharing a story about officers talking a man down on the Walnut Street bridge, alluding to this man being suicidal. THESE ARE NOT THE SAME THINGS. Dealing with someone who is nonverbal is not the same as talking down someone who is suicidal. While Mayor Papenfuse, Chief Carter, and Captain Olivera seemed to be attempting to present answers, this, in turn, pointed to a bigger problem that must be immediately addressed. Not only is there a lack of training on how to deal with mental illness and disabilities, there is a lack of basic understanding that not all mental illnesses or disabilities are the same.
Also, while discussing mental health, Harrisburg City Council provided the phone number for Crisis Intervention Services. Why is this number not on a magnet in the home of every person in Harrisburg? The number is not easily accessible, and not an easy number to remember. In fact, it took me nearly 10 minutes to find the number on the Dauphin County Website. This type of information must be readily available and easily accessible to the population. In an emergency, how is one expected to spend any amount of time searching for a phone number? Get this information in the hands of everyone in the community.

Anonymous G:

Who specifically is doing the negotiation of the FOP contract? What person(s)?

Demands have been presented to FOP and City already, what have they done w/ it?

The lack of a residency requirement for HPD was blamed on receivership. So, then it’s not something we’re bound to and should be easily to changed.

Concerning paid leave for officers who have killed someone, we’re asking that the collective bargaining agreement be changed.  

 On Training- How much time do you spend learning to “stop the threat”? What tactics are emphasized?(firearms vs. mental health/anti-racism etc)

On Recruiting: The collective bargaining agreement is not a recruiting tool. Low enrollment has many factors, including by your own admission, low pay. The public will not lower our standards because of the city’s failure to recruit adequate/qualified employees.

Where are the reports on citizen complaints against HPD?

We would like to see a report of HPD’s arrest demographics.