The Philadelphia Police Department is shaking up its leadership, making 36 command changes through promotions, retirements, and a reorganization of units.
Most significantly, four of the nine deputy commissioners have left or will leave in the coming months, Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Friday.
Pat Giorgio-Fox, once the highest-ranking woman in the department, recently retired through the city's Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), and Deputy Commissioners John J. Gaittens, Charlotte Council, and Stephen T. Johnson all plan to leave by January.
Many of the responsibilities of those deputies will be consolidated through the department's reorganization, and just one new deputy commissioner is being named to replace them - Denise Turpin, who will be in charge of the Office of Professional Responsibility.
From that position, Turpin will oversee Internal Affairs, where she previously worked as an inspector.
"She has an outstanding reputation among the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department and she will be exceptional in the role," Ramsey said.
The Office of Professional Responsibility, as well as the Standards and Accountability Office, which Ramsey said would get "an infusion of resources," will report directly to the commissioner.
Ramsey has made attacking corruption in the department one of his biggest priorities, and beefed up Internal Affairs.
Since 2009, nearly 50 officers have been arrested, some for high-profile and violent crimes, giving the department some bruising headlines.
Investigations and lawsuits involving other top officers have come to light in recent months. The biggest name on that list, Deputy Commissioner William Blackburn, is being moved to handle the largely administrative duties of Support Services, Ramsey said.
Blackburn previously was in charge of Major Investigations. He has been named in two federal lawsuits since May, including one accusing him of stalking and sexually harassing a narcotics captain.
Ramsey said the changes were made as part of an effort to make the department more nimble and efficient, as well as to plan for retirements that will change the face of its leadership.
"We're just simply trying to make sure we constantly review our operations and look at areas where we think we can improve," Ramsey said.
He said that in 2015, a significant number of key commanders are slated to retire through DROP.
"We have an older department, so we're going to start losing some people," he said. "But we've got to start planning now for that and making some adjustments."
As part of the reorganization, five of the six police divisions will have new inspectors and seven of the 21 police districts will be led by new captains.
Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel will be the top person in charge of the districts and divisions. Under him will be two new inspectors for the regional operations commands - Dennis Wilson for ROC North and Myron Patterson for ROC South.
Patterson has been attached to the School District of Philadelphia, where he created from scratch the position of chief safety executive.
John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, cheered the changes.
"There's some good moves in there," he said. "A lot of people going into key positions."
The changes in the department come a week after Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers announced a transfer policy that will move 293 of the longest-tenured firefighters to new assignments throughout the city.
The firefighters' union was considerably less enthusiastic about that, calling the transfers "illogical and dangerous."
"This doesn't make sense in a fireman's world," Bill Gault, president of Local 22 of the firefighters' union, said Friday. "Moving senior guys is stupid."
Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said the transfer policy was intended to give firefighters training on the fire service's needs in other parts of the city.
"The vision for the future is . . . better-educated, better-trained firefighters who have a wide range of skills in different parts of the city," he said.
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