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Friday, April 3, 2009

Philly PD Names Chief Integrity Officer

Police Dept. names chief integrity officer
The Philadelphia Inquirer by Barbara Boyer - April 2, 2009

A 28-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department has been appointed the chief integrity officer to take a close look at the way narcotics investigations are carried out and how confidential informants are used. Inspector Alice Mulvey, whose wide-ranging experience includes jobs in narcotics, was transferred last week to Internal Affairs, where she and her staff will review drug cases and other investigations that use confidential informants. "It's an evolving position," she said from her office on Dugan Road in Fox Chase, where the unit is based. "I just moved in last week, and we're still putting a staff together." The move comes as federal and local task forces are investigating allegations that some officers in the narcotics field unit improperly used confidential informants and fabricated information to obtain search warrants. Authorities are also investigating allegations of improper police conduct at raids on bodegas where business owners were arrested for selling the tiny plastic bags commonly used to sell drugs.

Several bodega owners have alleged to Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News reporters that plainclothes officers destroyed their security surveillance systems, stole thousands of dollars in cash, and pillaged merchandise from the shelves, including cartons of cigarettes. They also said police had illegally searched areas, such as vehicles and apartments, not covered by the search warrants. William M. Johnson, executive director of the Police Advisory Commission, a civilian board that investigates complaints against police, said the department had let oversight of narcotics investigations lapse over the years. "They definitely need an internal integrity officer looking over these reports, arrests, and investigations," Johnson said, adding that there should be civilian oversight as well. "Some of those issues related to corruption are coming up now, and that's a positive thing. To truly reform a department, these things have to be rooted out," he said. Deputy Commissioner William Blackburn said commanders had been reviewing the policy on confidential informants and oversight of drug investigations since last year. This review was going on even before the initial allegations of police misconduct became public.

Mulvey, 55, had been working in the Intensive Drug Investigation Division and reported to the head of the Narcotics Bureau. Although she filled in as a supervisor reviewing reports, there was not an integrity officer, as there had been in previous years. The position has changed over time, but there has not been a sole person responsible to review policy and oversight since last year, when Theresa Peay-Clark was promoted to chief inspector in the Narcotics Bureau, Blackburn said. Mulvey said Peay-Clark saw the need to change the position. "This is part of her vision in making it better than what it was," Mulvey said, adding later that she was "glad to take on the challenge." Top commanders, including Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, decided the integrity officer should report to an Internal Affairs commander, not narcotics, so there is no perception of bias, Blackburn said. Mulvey said yesterday that while much of her focus would be on narcotics, the office would monitor all units that used confidential informants.

Chief Inspector Anthony DiLacqua of the Office of Professional Responsibility, which oversees Internal Affairs, said a top priority was to revise the policy on the use of confidential informants and centralize files in Internal Affairs to better monitor the use of the informants. The office will also make sure investigations are handled properly. "The mission is really being defined now," DiLacqua said, adding that how many people would staff the office had not been determined. Internal Affairs will still investigate complaints of misconduct. Undercover officers are also used at times to investigate police conduct, a practice that also may be used by Mulvey. Blackburn said the office would conduct integrity checks of confidential informants, review and track search warrants, and identify patterns, trends, or inconsistencies. Investigators will make sure that the proper paperwork is filed and reviewed and that evidence is handled properly. Authorities will also inspect vouchers when confidential informants are paid to ensure that the correct signature appears and that the informant received the amount of money listed on the voucher, Blackburn said. "They'll be randomly pulling files to review," he said.

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