In just the last week alone, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) may have done more damage to its own reputation among the city’s residents than even the most convincing critic of centralized government authority could have managed. A series of scandals that have been showcased in recent local and national news has significantly tarnished the respectability of the PPD and its personnel, and rightly so. As a result, both faithful supporters of law enforcement efforts, as well as those who are instinctively wary of the police, are questioning whether or not the agency is working on behalf of the general public’s interests, altogether. Given the seedy nature and insidious details of the stories of police corruption that surface every day from cities everywhere, who could blame anyone for distrusting the intentions of law enforcement officers? In the city of Philadelphia, where I live, it has become almost impossible for conscientious individuals (especially members of minorities) not to, and here are some examples of why:
When a video of officer Philip Nace (pictured above) and his patrol partner unexpectedly went viral on YouTube, their abusive interactions with two innocent African-American pedestrians suddenly fixated the eyes of thousands of online viewers upon Philadelphia and its burgeoning police state. The video’s footage, which depicts the officers verbally and physically assaulting the two young men without any justifiable cause for suspicion, demonstrated the unjust persecution that has unfortunately become commonplace in cities such as Philadelphia and New York, where the tyrannical and racially-driven “stop-and-frisk” policy has become a legally accepted standard of police conduct. Despite causing quite a stir in the day or two following its initial debut, it seemed somewhat unlikely at first that the video would ultimately have an impact of any measurable significance: police brutality videos are almost a dime a dozen nowadays, and often result in few consequences for the officers involved, regardless of the number of views that they manage to generate. It came as something of surprise, however, when less than a month later, a second incriminating video of Nace and his partner surfaced on YouTube, filmed committing an outright display of what can only be described as, “bullying,” for a second time, and again without any apparent provocation. This time, the footage portrays the overtly hostile officer Nace aggressively tipping over a local resident’s basketball hoop seemingly at random, destroying the $450 piece of equipment in the process. The two officers then proceed to climb back into their police van, at which point Nace can be witnessed venomously calling out, “Have a good day!” as the two drive off, followed by a spitefully bellowed, “Jesus loves you!” which spews from his partner’s gullet in a manner that could invoke only contempt for the two thugs on the part of any dignified viewer. Upsetting, though it is to watch, the video manages to show the officers masterfully defaming themselves in a manner that is purely reliant upon such a candidly grotesque display of their own unpleasantness: the brutishness of the two graceless bloats conveys volumes on its own, never requiring anyone other than the policemen themselves to demonstrate their own repulsive cruelty. The ugliness of their misdeeds simply speaks for itself.
The young man who had shot the footage (who chose to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from Nace) has revealed to the press that he is no stranger to Nace’s abusive tendencies, and even went as far as to remark:
“He comes out here and harasses people all the time…Nace is a bully.”
Fortunately, the shocking content of the two videos resulted in the suspension of both Nace and his partner, and has since sparked an investigation into the conduct of the officers during their time spent on duty as policemen. However, this is only the beginning: the recent smattering of shameful and angering instances of misconduct by Philadelphia police officers hardly ends there.
When India Torres returned home to the residence she shares with her family in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, only to find that intruders had broken in and robbed it, she naturally didn’t hesitate before calling the police. Regular readers of this website may find the Kensington region familiar, as the area’s ongoing saga of the tyrannical abuse of its residents by corrupt politicians using eminent domain laws to seize rightfully-owned property was recently the subject of another Stateless Statements article, the link to which can be found here. Despite the painfully slow creep towards gentrification that is ever-so gradually progressing within the neighborhood, the area is infamous for being one of heavy drug trafficking (among countless other illegal activities). As a result, Torres’ surprise came about not because of the break-in itself, but from the shocking discovery that there was enough evidence to strongly indicate that the burglary had been committed by five police officers who had been working as part of the city’s 24th District Narcotics Enforcement Team.
The five agents appear to have broken in without even so much as a warrant, allegedly operating based on the lame excuse that there had been a hunch that the residence was a drug house. After entering through one of the house’s windows, they reportedly proceeded to search for any lingering evidence of illegal activity. After their search uncovered nothing of the sort, however, it is presumed that the officers then took it upon themselves for whatever reason to steal various items from inside Torres’ home, many of which later turned up in the lockers of the suspected officers upon further investigation by Internal Affairs. Flabbergasted as to why her family’s residence was even targeted for search by police in the first place, Torres remarked:
“We live in a drug infested area. They assume everyone is the same. They don’t separate the good people from the bad people. They just assume everyone is the same, and they treat everyone the same way, and it has to stop…I don’t own that much stuff in my house, and the little bit of stuff I have is very valuable. I work hard to have this house, and for someone to just come in and destroy it–it’s not gonna happen.”
A similar display of the kind of treachery, misconduct, and corruption that seems to be shared among certain Philadelphia police officers is that of city homicide detective Ron Dove. Dove was suspended from all street work earlier this month after suspicions arose that he had assisted his girlfriend, Erica Sanchez, in covering up evidence of her guilt after she had allegedly stabbed her former lover, Cesar Vera, to death. However, this would turn out to be only the beginning of the story, as numerous other grave allegations against Dove have continued to develop during the course of the still-ongoing investigation into his shadowy past. Local news source Philly.com reported on October 26th that an iPad confiscated by police from Dove’s home was found to contain some rather perplexing and potentially incriminating images of the detective, potentially linking him to the scene of a recent Northeast Philadelphia drug bust which had resulted in the confiscation of a whopping $300,000 worth of heroin. Photos contained within the tablet depict Dove alongside the suspected drug dealer, smiling in a bar together, his arm suspended around the very same man that authorities believe to be responsible for the gargantuan kilogram stockpile of drugs that had been seized during the sting operation. The connection of the two men with one another is certainly puzzling, to say the least, but the aura of unsavory associations surrounding the suspended Philadelphia homicide detective goes even further.Dove is also presently under the scrutiny of Internal Affairs for having potentially covered up the investigation into the 2010 murder of Leslie Delzingaro. Delzingaro had been gunned down in a bar which was owned by none other than the father of Dove’s girlfriend (stabbing suspect Erica Sanchez), while Delzingaro had been making a routine business visit to the establishment as part of her job selling decorative lighting fixtures. Upon receiving news of the recent investigation into Dove’s suspicious activities, the family of Delzingaro has come forth, claiming that Dove (the lead detective in charge of her murder investigation) had seemed unusually nonchalant about the slaying, repeatedly insisting that the bar’s owner was a “great guy,” and that there was little cause for further inquiry about the matter. Dove is also suspected of covering up information regarding the 2012 murder of 22-year-old Melanie Colon, who was shot six times at close range and found dead behind an apartment building in the Juniata Park neighborhood. Investigators believe that Cesar Vera, the slain ex-suitor of Dove’s girlfriend Erica Sanchez, is linked both to the murder of Melanie Colon and to the disappearance of the last person to have been with her while she was still alive: Colon’s boyfriend, local mechanic Reynaldo Torres. Notes confiscated from Dove’s iPad led search parties to a littered ravine near Torres’ home, where cadaver dogs uncovered a debris-covered tarp, the contents of which have been submitted for DNA testing. The results of those tests are still pending at present. Following the gathering of such a wide range of incriminating evidence, an arrest warrant was issued for Erica Sanchez, who turned herself in to police last week and has since been charged with the murder of Cesar Vera.
The complex and tangled web of suspicion surrounding Dove has resulted in the transfer of all of the open cases still under his investigation to other city detectives. However, when reporters for Philly.com inquired of the District Attorney as to whether or not those investigations themselves were now under review due to detective Dove’s numerous allegations of guilt and having covered up criminal evidence, a spokesperson for the office declined to comment. It appears as though nearly all of the facts and circumstances of this disturbing and convoluted saga will continue to remain shrouded in mystery, at least for some time to come.
What is clear, especially to those residing within Philadelphia’s city limits, however, is that something is most definitely awry about the recently-observed pattern of local law enforcement officers’ misconduct. In a society that has been abandoned and preyed upon by the same individuals who have been delegated the responsibility of protecting the people, what other option remains for people but to stand up and start protecting themselves? Perhaps the demand for an end to the presently-monopolized services of the police will come about as a result of the realization that an alternative provider of community security is absolutely essential to the safety of its inhabitants. Perhaps stories like this will point people in the right direction, towards the realization that no good can ever come from an industry that has been monopolized by a government, or by any other agency.
Perhaps people will begin to realize that there are alternatives to the present system, and that competition and accountability in the markets for security and justice will foster a more level playing field that is far less susceptible to abuse and corruption. Perhaps people will begin policing themselves, and start protecting themselves and each other from society’s countless criminals, whether such villains be independently-operating, or working on behalf of the corrupt and violent monopoly that calls itself the “government.” For ultimately, it is those who continue to hold offices within this corrupt agency that present the greatest threat to peaceful individuals today: independent instances of crime pale in frequency and scale compared to the mass abuses and concealment of abuses being carried out every day by the state and its employees. It’s time that some alternatives were created, and the people of Philadelphia are slowly beginning to undergo such a process of realization. After all, how could they not, at this point, given that the aforementioned stories have managed to unfold in all their grisly horror over the course of only the previous week? And these are merely the few recent cases that the public has even been made aware of. There are bound to be countless others that remain outside of the public eye.
The writing is on the wall. The idea has already gone viral on YouTube. Just look at the public’s reaction to Nace and his partner’s civil rights abuses if you still need proof. It’s time for responsible individuals who care about public safety to police the police; the time is now more than ever. The stakes are growing higher, and the implications are more dire than ever before. Until then, please stay safe.
Officer Philip Nace’s Case:
Detective Dove’s Investigation: