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Russel J. Rice

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I Do Solemnly Swear
R. J. Rice  More Info

About the 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.


Today, Philadelphia, 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.




Russell J. Rice is a “28 year veteran with the Philadelphia Police Department. He was constantly assigned to the busiest and highest crime ridden areas in the city. During his tenure as a Philadelphia Police Officer, he was assigned to uniform duty. Juvenile Aid, the sex crimes / child abuse unit, city wide vice, narcotics and other units and districts throughout the city of Philadelphia He was promoted to the rank of police sergeant. His supervisory assignments included uniformed patrol and Northwest Detectives, he was subsequently promoted to lieutenant and was assigned to uniform districts and to narcotics. He has been involved in thousands of arrests for everything from disorderly conduct to murder. He has seen first hand some of the most comical situations to the most tragic situations people must endure. He has been present at some of the most brutal crime scenes ever reported. This book describes actual events as witnessed by the author. His experience and training affords the author a unique insight into the workings of the human spirit, some of which is good and brave, some of which is filled with brutality. Russell J. Rice is the author of I Do Solemnly Swear: Life as a Philadelphia Cop.”

According to the book description of I Do Solemnly Swear: Life as a Philadelphia Cop, “This book is dedicated to the hard working men and women who wear a police uniform everywhere in America. This book contains individual stories concerning actual events which the author was involved in during his 28 years as a Philadelphia Police Officer These incidents include homicide, rape, child abuse, robbery and almost any other deviate act devised by the human mind- it also contains some of the more humorous aspects of the job. It demonstrates how quickly a quiet moment can turn into a life and death struggle and how police officers must decide in a heart - beat what actions to take. Their decision may define the rest of their careers and their lives as well as the lives of the public they serve. The uniform officers do not have the luxury of hindsight when making their decisions. An officer makes un-told number of life altering decisions during law enforcement career. Most of the time they make the right choice but occasionally they make a mistake. This book demonstrates how an officer is forced to be a doctor, lawyer and occasionally a judge. The life of a cop is a thankless job but yet they continue to do it. This book contains just a sample of what a police officer sees during his / her police careers.”

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