September 18, 2020
Philadelphia City Council approved two police reform bills on Thursday that were introduced in response to protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
City Council members passed the "Let Philly Breathe" bill, which would prohibit police from using certain kinds of physical restraints when detaining a person. For example, the use of chokeholds, hogtying, and an officer using his or her body weight on a person's face, head, neck, chest or back would be banned. The intent, the bill read, is to lessen the risk of someone dying or being injured from asphyxiation.
When George Floyd was killed by police on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, and three other cops who were at the scene face related charges. Floyd's death resulted scrutiny about police restraint tactics and other use-of-force issues.
"Let Philly Breathe" was introduced by Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson.
The police code of conduct previously banned the use of chokeholds, and in June. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw instituted a disciplinary policy for officers who use chokeholds when making arrests.
The other bill City Council passed, introduced by Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, requires that a public hearing be held where residents can comment on a proposed police contract before it is voted on by the members of the Fraternal Order of Police, but the public does not have input on the contract's approval by the city.
Gilmore Richardson said the bill adds transparency to the negotiation process.
But Philadelphia FOP Lodge No. 5 president John McNesby dismissed both bills as "meaningless legislation."
Once again, @PHLCouncil passed meaningless legislation regarding @PhillyPolice reform. Chokeholds already banned by state law. And contract negotiations are always private. Let’s address real crime problems in city. @john_mcnesby @FOPLodge5 pic.twitter.com/onVXfKe7mO— Mike Neilon (@MikeNeilon) September 17, 2020