3 Things: Philly's Broken Courts, 1,000 Tasers, Drug Dogs

By Joel Mathis
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 7, 2010

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Three things to know in Philadelphia today:

STATE COURT TO REVIEW PHILLY COURTS: The chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said yesterday that he would order a comprehensive review of Philadelphia's troubled criminal justice system in response to what he called "alarming and serious trends." At the same time, Ronald D. Castille expressed skepticism about some of the findings and statistical calculations in an Inquirer series that documented a falling conviction rate, growing witness intimidation, a massive number of fugitives, and a heavy proportion of dismissed and withdrawn cases. "The series points out some serious problems," the chief justice said. "I'm going to start getting some answers here." (Inquirer)

PHILLY POLICE BUY 1,000 STUN GUNS: The Philadelphia Police Department has agreed to buy 1,000 Tasers to expand the use of less-than-lethal weapons by officers often called upon to deal with unruly, mentally ill people. The deployment of such weapons has been a priority of Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who has advocated a training program designed to reduce violent confrontations between police and the mentally ill. In July, officers killed a mentally ill homeless man wielding a box cutter in a Center City concourse. Homeless advocates questioned whether lethal force was necessary. (Inquirer)

PHILLY AIRPORT DOGS FAIL CERTIFICATION TEST: Fox 29 Investigates' Jeff Cole reported that the dog teams run by the Transportation Security Administration failed the tests in late 2009, and other dog teams across the country have had the very same problem. The dogs are used to sniff out explosives in cargo. But now a TSA spokesperson says the dog teams are being used as a "visible presence deterrent" until they can be re-trained and tested. The TSA spokesperson also told Fox 29 Investigates about a dozen dog teams at airports across the country have also failed. (MyFoxPhilly)

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