Technology upgrades dominate Philadelphia police budget hearing

Metro Phildelphia, 04/09/24: The Philadelphia Police Department plans to lean into new technologies, including drones and a 911 texting service, top brass told lawmakers during a hearing Tuesday on Mayor Cherelle Parker’s first budget proposal.

Buoyed by the construction of a multimillion-dollar forensics lab, along with grant money, Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said the upgrades will help law enforcement solve and prevent crimes.

‘We won’t get into the specific technology capabilities because of the sensitivity of it,’ he added. ‘But if we get what we need from this budget… we will be on par with our federal partners.’….

Members of several social justice organizations gathered outside City Hall prior to the hearing to oppose budget increases for the PPD and Philadelphia Department of Prisons.

‘We know that we will never arrest our way to safety, so why are we proposing to continue to increase the budget of the police department when communities are struggling?’ asked Rikeyah Lindsay, an organizer with Straight Ahead, which advocates for the abolition of the prison system.

The Abolitionist Law Center, another organization involved in the protest, distributed a statement from Crystal Rodriguez, mother to Alexander Spencer’s children. Spencer, 28, was killed by police following an altercation that left an officer shot Jan. 26 inside a Fairhill beer deli.

‘When the mayor says that she is 1001% backing the police, when she says she wants more drones, when she says she wants to put $1 billion into police – this is what it is paying for,’ Rodriguez said in the written statement after describing the impact of his death on her family.”

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