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October 28, 2023

John McNesby to resign as Philly police union president

The former cop is taking a job with the state of Pennsylvania and his last day will be Nov. 10. The FOP is holding a board meeting next week to elect a new president

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John McNesby Joseph Kaczmarek, File/AP

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby announced his resignation on Friday, effective Nov. 10.

John McNesby is resigning as president of Philadelphia's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, he announced on Friday. 

McNesby, who has served as the president of the city's police union since 2007, is taking a state government job, according to multiple media reports. His last day will be Nov. 10. 

McNesby started his career with the Philadelphia Police Department in 1989 as a patrol officer before working as a narcotics officer, NBC10 reported. 

"As the longest-running president, I wanted to leave when members would ask, 'Why is he leaving?' not, 'When is he leaving?' It's that time," McNesby said, according to KYW Newsradio. "I will still be available to help or lend guidance as my right-hand guy and first VP, Roosevelt Poplar, finishes out the remainder of the term."

The FOP is holding a board meeting next week to elect a new president, 6ABC said.

McNesby has been an outspoken advocate for police officers and has been involved in various discussions and controversies related to law enforcement in Philadelphia throughout his tenure as FOP president. 

In 2016, the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police officially endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for the 2016 election. McNesby confirmed this endorsement, citing the National Fraternal Order of Police's earlier endorsement of Trump. This decision followed criticism from McNesby towards Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for not including voices from the law enforcement community at the Democratic National Convention.

In 2017, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams faced criticism from McNesby for not charging a 16-year-old girl who admitted to punching a police officer. McNesby accused Williams of neglecting his duty to seek justice for the officer and allowing the girl to go unpunished. 

A public dispute in 2018 erupted between newly-appointed Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and McNesby. McNesby strongly criticized Krasner's statements made to a group of police cadets, accusing him of endangering their lives with misguided firearm advice. McNesby also pointed out Krasner's history as a civil rights lawyer, emphasizing his lack of experience in law enforcement matters.

In 2019, the FOP criticized Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins for an editorial he wrote in the Inquirer, calling him a "non-resident washed up football player" and labeling his piece a "racist attack" on the city's police force. Jenkins' editorial addressed the need for a police commissioner who would challenge the police union and support greater officer accountability. He also highlighted racial disparities in policing, citing instances of racist Facebook comments by officers and statistics on racial profiling in stop-and-frisk practices. The FOP responded by questioning Jenkins' football performance and dismissing his proposals for reform.

McNesby strongly criticized Mayor Jim Kenney's decision to bring in an independent consultant to review the city's response to civil unrest protests in 2020. McNesby called it "a new low" and accused the city of second-guessing police actions. The independent review, which aimed to assess the police department's use of force and tactical response during the protests, was supported by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw as a step towards meaningful police reform in response to calls for change.

Also in 2020, McNesby faced criticism from both Krasner and the far-right group Proud Boys after an event attended by Vice President Mike Pence at the FOP lodge. The event, called "Back the Blue," aimed to show support for law enforcement amid widespread criticism following the killing of George Floyd. McNesby released a statement stating he was unaware of Proud Boys members' presence and asserted they would have been escorted off the property if known, leading to a Twitter exchange between the group and McNesby. Krasner also sharply criticized FOP leadership for failing to ask the Proud Boys to leave the event and questioned McNesby's past comments regarding Black Lives Matter.