Updated: Dec 4, 2022
Philadelphia Controller's review of police spending details staffing issues, varying 911 response times
In a city struggling with violent crime, the Philadelphia City Controller’s Office has found that there are fewer police officers now than in recent years.
PHILADELPHIA - In a city struggling with violent crime, the Philadelphia City Controller’s Office has found that there are fewer police officers now than in recent years.
"In total, we have over 640 fewer officers available for duty than we had 5 years ago," City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart explained in an interview with FOX 29’s Jeff Cole.
Of the 6,000 Philadelphia police officers, Rhynhart reports on 2,500 are assigned to patrol the city’s streets.
Broken down of 21 police districts, the controller’s office found that number left just 11 to 22 cops on the beat at any one time - per district - in a department budgeted at more than 750 million dollars at the time of the review.
"That amount of money, when it comes down to it, there’s only 11 to 22 officers at any given time per district," Rhyhart said.
"That feels outrageous in a city that is overrun with gun crime. How has that happened, how has that gotten to be like that?" Cole asked.
"What needs to happen is that every position needs to be looked at," Rhynhart replied.
Rhynhart’s audit on police spending and practices came at the urging of City Council after Philadelphia was rocked by protests in the aftermath of the police-killing of George Floyd.
So, why are there so few cops?
Rhynhart points to the sharp rise in the number of officers off the job due to injury which she says has more than doubled since 2018 to 572 officers at a cost of more than $50 million dollars this year.
She says the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act, which allows officers hurt on duty to be paid tax-free while off the job, needs aggressive oversight.
"Is it being abused does that number alone indicate abuse in this program?" Cole asked.
"There is likely abuse in this program. The numbers have increased so dramatically - so much higher than other cities it does indicate abuse," she replied.
The audit also found that in Philadelphia if you’re a victim of crime you’re better off in a white neighborhood.
"The 911 response times in majority white districts we’re twice as fast than in the majority districts of black and brown Philadelphians," Rhynhart said. "It doesn’t make sense."
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw responded to the report’s findings in a statement Tuesday afternoon. She cited the report’s findings as presenting an ‘opportunity’ to look deeper into ‘staffing and resource allocation.’
Commissioner Outlaw's Full statement can be found below. You can view the full report at the bottom of the article, or by clicking here.
"Over the past 8 months, PPD participated in the City Controller’s Office special review of the Philadelphia Police Department which focused on overall spending practices; including deployment, as well as training and administrative functions across police districts.
The findings in this report present an opportunity for PPD to prioritize systems as we continue to focus on creating efficiencies in business practices, as well as to look deeper into staffing and resource allocation. I encourage the public to read the entirety of the report, including the PPD’s responses, as the department did not fully agree with all of the findings and recommendations.
Mitigating the wave of violent crime that is plaguing cities across the nation is among the most pertinent issues facing society today. As a learning organization, the Philadelphia Police Department remains committed to continued collaboration with all of our stakeholders as we work towards making organizational advancements that increase internal accountability, efficiency, and equity."