Philly to post police misconduct complaints online, but cops won’t be named

Mark your calendar: The datasets are coming Nov. 1, and will include information like [redacted].

Philadelphia Police Headquarters

Philadelphia Police Headquarters

By Beyond My Ken, via Wikimedia Commons

The City of Philadelphia will this fall begin posting online civilian complaints alleging police misconduct, a move that will make it easier for members of the public to view such filings — but there’s a long list of information that will likely be redacted.

Mayor Jim Kenney on Tuesday signed an executive order updating the city’s current policy, which stipulated complaints alleging police misconduct were public, but they could only be accessed when a member of the public or the media requested to view them in person at the Internal Affairs Division in the Far Northeast.

Beginning Nov. 1, datasets on the civilian complaints will be posted that will include:

  • A brief narrative of the complaint
  • The district in which the complaint occurred
  • The complaint classification
  • The investigative finding
  • Police Board of Inquiry determination
  • Reference numbers
  • Any other information determined by the Commissioner or his designee to be appropriate

Three years of previous data will be posted by “early 2018.” The city noted that “some information” will be redacted to ensure the safety of all parties involved in the complaint, including certain personal information, medical and treatment information, and “information that would compromise public safety or officer safety.”

Those redactions include, per the executive order:

  • First and last names of complainants, witnesses, victims and officers, except for initials
  • Other names or information that could be used to identify those individuals
  • Home addresses or specific non-business addresses
  • License plate numbers, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and certified mail numbers
  • Actual birth dates (however, age is acceptable)
  • Other identification numbers including citation numbers and firearms serial numbers
  • Undercover or “otherwise sensitive” officer assignments
  • Officer payroll numbers or shift hours
  • Police department assigned vehicle numbers
  • Information regarding police “tactics that would endanger officer or public safety if released”
  • “Any other portion of the investigative file that the Police Commissioner determines must be kept confidential in order to protect the integrity of the investigative process”

The information will be posted on the Police Department’s website in a format consistent with the OpenDataPhilly initiative.

Here’s the executive order in full: