A group of African-American Philadelphia police officers obtained legal counsel and is in the process of initiating legal complaints against a "racially hostile work environment in the Narcotics Unit," it was announced Wednesday afternoon at a news conference at the headquarters of the Guardian Civic League.
"A group of African-American police officers at the Narcotics Unit, including Staff Inspector Debra Frazier, the highest ranking African-American and the Integrity Officer at the unit, have retained me as civil rights counsel and are in the process of initiating legal complaints against a racially hostile work environment in narcotics," said attorney Brian R. Mildenberg.
Mildenberg made the announcement flanked by Guardian Civic League (GCL) President Rochelle Bilal and local NAACP President Minister Rodney Muhammad. The police officers involved have filed a complaint with the city's Human Relations Commission.
The officers paint a picture of a division rife with racism. Their membership has complained that the commanding officers in the narcotics unit, Chief Anthony Boyle and Inspector Raymond Evers, have looked the other way and actually condoned racism as well as officer malfeasance.
In the filing, GCL members accuse Boyle and Evers of encouraging the violation of laws and police directives within the unit and displaying racially discriminatory attitudes and actions, as follows:
They have directed and encouraged narcotics officers to falsify documents and evidence related to the recovery of drugs in arrests and operations; instructed officers to obscure the source of recovered narcotics if an arrested person is willing to provide information, by falsifying paperwork outside of the approved confidential informant program and directives.
In a practice known as "flipping," it is alleged that officers have been instructed to "make the drugs go away." Although "flipping" is a common law enforcement technique, police directives require certain documentation, procedures and protections when being applied. The GCL members allege commanding officers have directed and encouraged officers to "go around the approved methods and to offer to falsify the origin of narcotics by placing them on property receipts instead of arrest records."
Commanding officers routinely refer to minority communities by offensive names such as "scum" and refer to the killing of civilians as "thinning the herd," the complaint says.
The complaint further alleges commanding officers have denied equal opportunities for overtime and beneficial shifts and duties to Black officers and have harassed and encouraged harassment and disrespect of African-American police officers to the point where they believe that "a crisis of racial discrimination exists in the division."
The Police Department, as this is a matter under investigation, had no comment on the allegations.
Mildenberg said that a corporal, with a Confederate flag emblazoned on his car, had been parking his vehicle at the narcotics division headquarters. That officer has since been told by superiors that he could not park his car, with the emblem, on city property.
"We feel that the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and slavery, and that it is completely inappropriate for any Philadelphia police officer to endorse or display this flag," Bilal said. "According to our members, the display of this flag is part of a broader problem of racism and improper conduct in the narcotics division, which is headed by Chief Boyle and Inspector Evers."