U.S. Reviews Philadelphia Police Shootings of Unarmed Suspects

Philadelphia police didn’t receive consistent training on deadly force policies, according to a U.S. Justice Department review released Monday of shootings between 2007 and 2014.

Officers were involved in 394 shootings in the period, and about 15 percent of suspects were unarmed, according to the assessment, which started in 2013 after a request by city police commissioner Charles Ramsey. Besides additional instruction, the report recommended increased transparency and a single unit to investigate police shootings.

The report on Philadelphia, the fifth-largest U.S. city, comes amid greater scrutiny of police practices after the fatal 2014 shooting of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The death sparked national protests highlighting racial divisions and police distrust.

In Philadelphia, 49 percent of police discharging guns on unarmed people were attributable to misidentifying a non-threatening object or a movement as a threat, according to the review. It outlined 91 recommendations for the department, which has 6,526 officers and 834 civilian staff.

“The reforms are intended to create a safer environment for the public and officers,” the Justice Department said. “By implementing the reforms recommended in this report, the department will be addressing a host of critical issues facing not only the PPD but also the entire police profession.”

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