Nearly every cop I’ve spoken to recently complains about a lack of support from the city’s leadership and the general public. I reached out to John McNesby, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Philadelphia Lodge #5, and asked him what needs to be done to show more support for cops.
“There is a lack of support across the board for police,” McNesby replied. “We’re seeing officers fired at a record rate. We got a district attorney who is arresting everybody without proper charges or probable cause, and they are all being found not guilty.”
McNesby said that morale is low in the Philadelphia Police Department because officers can’t get days off due to the dwindling ranks at roll calls.
“The lack of support is scary. I think everybody is afraid of the media and they are gun shy about coming out and openly supporting the police. It’s a shame,” McNesby said. “But at the end of the day the officers know the FOP is behind them 100 percent.”
The FOP went all out in its support of Carlos Vega in the Democratic primary race against DA Larry Krasner. I asked McNesby if the FOP will support Republican candidate Chuck Peruto in the general election.
“I think Chuck Peruto is a good guy. I think his heart is in the right place, but the only thing that’s not in the right place is the numbers. There is an eight-to-one edge,” McNesby explained. “He’s got a better chance of getting on that next skyrocket to the moon than winning this election, but we’re going to support him.”
I suspect that many Democrats will cross party lines and vote for Peruto in the general election. McNesby agreed. I asked what specifically the FOP has against Krasner.
“He’s been a defense attorney his whole career, and he’s filed a number of lawsuits against the police, and he believes the police are no good,” McNesby replied. “It’s like we have two public defenders in the city. It’s also his lack of genuine concern for the families who lost loved ones.”
McNesby added that Krasner is more of an advocate for the criminal defendant than the crime victim.
“There are not a whole lot of people committing a whole lot of crime in the city. There is a small amount of people committing a whole lot of crime, and Krasner seems to be letting them go out the door.”
McNesby said there is a lack of cooperation between the Philadelphia police and the DA’s office, noting that Police Commissioner Outlaw does not appear at his press conferences, and he does not appear at police press conferences.
“Krasner has no cooperation with the Pennsylvania attorney general or the federal law enforcement partners. One of his first acts after he got elected was to drop out of the District Attorney’s Association, which is a great resource for someone coming into office. He’s on an island by himself,” McNesby said.
He spoke of the crime surge in the city and what can be done to curb it.
“We need to send a message to these thugs on the street that the police are coming, and they are not going to take any shit. Right now, the players know there ain’t going to be any consequences. We need to change that attitude and change the atmosphere,” McNesby said. “You are not going to buy your way out of this, pray your way out of it, or sing your way out of it. They need to let us do our jobs. Cops need to be cops.”
What are the primary goals of the FOP?
“The top goal is to make sure we don’t lose another cop next year. We want the Police Department to be fully staffed and equipped. We also want the police to work with the community to get their support and full cooperation so we can stop some of these murders.”
McNesby, a retired police officer, said he became an officer in the late-80s and was assigned to the East Division. He served in the burglary detail, the narcotics detail and the East Division Task Force. In 2000, he was transferred to the Narcotics Division and assigned to the Gun Violence Task Force. In 2002 he was elected Vice President of the FOP, and in 2007 he was elected president. He has been reelected four additional times.
I asked him if he would recommend that young people become cops.
“Absolutely,” he replied. “It is a great career. It pays good and takes care of your family. And I think we can get this police department back to where it needs to be.”
Paul Davis’ Crime Beat column appears here each week. He can be reached via pauldavisoncrime.com.