In the last couple of years, several shocking videos documenting police treatment of black suspects have drawn an intense spotlight on racism and police brutality. While much of the outrage has been driven by civilian voices, in Philadelphia it seems that black police officers are no longer content to sit by quietly any longer, either.
In a press conference led by Guardian Civic League President, Rochelle Bilal, the community leader openly addressed the allegations made in an anonymous letter sent to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
The letter ostensibly penned by the “ Stressed Black Personnel of the Narcotics Bureau,” accuses two white supervisors later identified as a Chief Inspector Anthony Boyle and an Inspector Raymond Evers of promoting an atmosphere where police offers are encouraged to defy department policies. The letter goes on to detail incidents where supervisors were heard making racially derogatory remarks towards black citizens, further accusing the two supervisors of creating a “racially hostile atmosphere” for black officers. The letter also claims that the supervisors stood behind the falsification of documentation and evidence related to drug arrests in cases where criminals agreed to volunteer confidential information towards other pending cases.
Of the 6 police officers so far only one has been identified, Staff Inspector Debra Frazier is currently the most senior black official serving on Philadelphia’s police force and is also the integrity officer for the department. The remaining accusers remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from superior officers. Center City Attorney Brian R. Mildenberg, states that the officers are seeking a full investigation into the allegations and that exploration is being made regarding a civil suit against the department.
As head of the Civic League, Bilal heads an organization which represents the interests of black police officers as well as the city’s NAACP. Speaking at the news conference Bilal said:
“Commanding officers have harassed and encouraged harassment and disrespect of African American police officers to the point where we believe that a crisis of racial discrimination exists at Narcotics…The crisis of discrimination is shown by the fact that a police corporal felt comfortable under the current commanding officers in parking his vehicle with a Confederate flag on it at the workplace”
Bilal went on to demand the immediate removal of the two named supervisors from their current posts in the department.
For its part, the Police Department is silent on the allegations. Department spokesman Troy Brown has refused to comment, citing the possibility of further litigation, while efforts to reach out to both Brown and Evers have remained unsuccessful.