Philadelphia Police Department
The history of the Philadelphia
Police Department traces its origin to Hans Block who, in 1663, established the first system of patrol in the city's Swedish
settlement. By the year 1700, Philadelphia had increased its population to 4,400.
As a result of this growth, the citizenry established a method of citizen participation known as "Town Watch." This system
remained the basic form of police protection until 1751.
with approximately 6,900 uniformed police, has the fourth largest police department in the country. Philadelphia is also the
fourth largest per capita among the twenty largest cities in America. Department sizes among major cities vary greatly, from
Indianapolis with 1,030 to New York City with 36,800. Philadelphia’s own department has fluctuated in size over the
years, from a peak of 8,500 in 1979 to just over 6,000 in the early 1990s.
The Police Department
of Philadelphia, as in other cities, is a military-like organization in which each sworn officer holds a rank. Ranks begin
with patrol officer and end with police commissioner. The job of managing and directing the department rests in the hands
of the Commissioner, who reports directly to the city’s Managing Director and ultimately to the Mayor. The Commissioner
is appointed by the Managing Director with approval by the Mayor, and has no fixed term of office (Charter Section 3-206).
The Charter allows for two Deputy Police Commissioners to be appointed by the Commissioner, as well as an executive secretary.
In recent years several Deputy Managing Directors have been appointed to assist the Commissioner as well. The 1998 fiscal
year budget for the Philadelphia Police Department is $352 million, 14% of the city’s entire General Fund revenues.
All of the members
of the Police Department, except the Commissioner and his deputies, are civil service employees. Civil service as a system
was adopted in Philadelphia in 1885 to recognize the capable, not just the politically connected, in the awarding of city
jobs through merit-based exams. Since that time, the system has been revamped three times, most recently in 1951, in an effort
to bring it closer to its ideal. All sworn members of the force also belong to the Fraternal Order of Police, its collective
bargaining unit. Police Department civilian employees (who are not sworn uniformed officers) are also protected by civil service
and handle a great deal of administrative tasks for the department but are not members of the FOP.
Each of the Commissioner’s
deputies is responsible for different bureaus of the operations and administration of the department. Each bureau is commanded
by a chief inspector, and most officers are within the patrol bureaus, which are further subdivided into six geographical
patrol divisions and twenty-three patrol districts to encompass the entire city. Patrol divisions are commanded by an inspector,
and patrol districts are commanded by a captain. A patrol district is staffed by four platoons, each consisting of a lieutenant,
two sergeants, and approximately forty officers.
Major "off-street" functions
of the Police Department include the training bureau which operates the Police Academy; the communications bureau which manages
radio and 911 operations; the staff services bureau which coordinates such functions as laboratory work, evidence tracking,
and the maintenance of criminal records; the internal investigations bureau which is charged with ensuring the integrity of
the police force; and other bureaus and units that provide administrative functions such as human resources, information systems,
and research and planning.