PCHR often gathers insights from a host of partners all focused on the same goal — strengthening the quality of life and opportunity for every Philadelphia resident. In fact, it hosts a monthly Interagency Civil Rights Task Force to help vet issues and guide policy proposals. The task force, made up of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and community advocates, works to prevent inter-group tensions and bias crimes throughout Philadelphia by exchanging information and coordinating responses to incidents and crimes.
The April meeting table included familiar faces in this effort, such as U.S. Attorney Robert Reed, Jorge Tuddon of the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia, Kelvin Anderson of the Philadelphia Police Department Advisory Commission, Kathleen Kaderbek of the FBI and Ryan Tack-Hooper of CAIR Philadelphia, among others. It also featured a new one: Deputy Commissioner Kevin J. Bethel of the Philadelphia Police Department.
He gave an overview of the latest policies on interviews, arrests and interrogations as well as thoughts on curbing the school-to-prison pipeline that sees countless young people — largely of color — forfeit their futures before they even begin.
Bethel and the group exchanged anecdotes, dispelling myths and taking notes on how to further improve systems, especially when it comes to perceptions among residents, such as racial profiling and language access concerns.
He welcomed the conversation and ensured everyone in the room that his word is bond, freely sharing his contact details so that a continuous exchange happens beyond this one meeting.
“Talk is good,” Bethel said. “But we need to put action steps in place.”