WORTH REPEATING: Bissinger Lowers The Boom

police-brutality.jpgBUSS BISSINGER: The cause for celebration is the announcement Monday that Williams charged recently fired police officer Frank Tepper with murder in the November shooting death of 21-year-old Billy Panas. Williams bypassed the laughable grand jury that Abraham had impaneled to investigate the killing, which in all probability would have taken months and, based on past history, failed to do anything anyway, even though Panas was unarmed and defenseless. Williams’ decision was neatly prefaced by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey’s swift firing of Tepper several weeks earlier. That was another remarkable move given the city’s slow and Byzantine police disciplinary system.But once, just once, it would have been nice if police union heads and line officers had broken their pathetic code of omerta and spoken out publicly – if they had said Tepper’s conduct was outrageous and wrong and contrary to the very essence of what a police officer should be. It’s the least they could do for the sweetheart raises they just got while the rest of the world was taking pay cuts or getting laid off. It also would have fortified public trust – but police departments have never been very into public trust. I am sure the men and women in blue will instead be grumbling over their beers tonight. The Tepper case will serve as one more piece of evidence that nobody ever loves them or appreciates the danger of their jobs enough. Use of a deadly weapon while off duty is never their fault; it’s the fault of unarmed citizens who provoke and threaten them. When Abraham gave reporters a final farewell interview before flying away on her broomstick, it was in a conference room ringed by the framed pictures of 23 police officers who died during her reign. To honor their memory was classy and appropriate. But in 2006 and 2007 alone, 35 citizens were fatally shot by Philadelphia police. MORE

RELATED: While the court battle is just beginning, the arrest of a former police sergeant yesterday brought abad-cop.thumbnail.jpg swift end to the campaign waged by the family of William Panas Jr., the unarmed man the officer shot after a street brawl. Since the Nov. 21 shooting, friends and family have been printing T-shirts and sweaters, writing letters, holding vigils, and distributing fliers and orange ribbons throughout their Port Richmond neighborhood. Panas’ father, William Panas Sr., said that all stopped with the arrest of the recently fired sergeant, Frank Tepper. Panas said he would remain largely quiet while the case goes to court. Tepper, who was charged Monday with murder and related offenses, surrendered at Police Headquarters about 9 a.m. yesterday, entering the building through a Race Street door closed to the public. MORE

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