- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced Wednesday the creation of an independent board to monitor the implementation of recommendations from a Justice Department team that studied the city’s nearly 400 officer-involved shootings in the last eight years.

Nutter, who signed an executive order creating the board, said it would ensure the changes are made. The Justice Department team on Monday offered 91 recommendations, including better training, investigation and community relations. The recommendations are to be put into place over the next 18 months.

“When you take a close examination of the recommendations for reform within the department, it is clear that changes need to be made with regard to the use of force - and certainly lethal force - in the Philadelphia Police Department,” Nutter said.

The review - requested by the police department in 2013 before police shootings last year in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and Cleveland heightened national focus on the issue - found Philadelphia’s investigations into officer-involved shootings lacked consistency, focus and timeliness and recommended a single investigative unit to handle them.

The Justice Department’s report found disparities in crime scene photography and documentation, the use of typed notes instead of audio and video recordings for interviews and an internal affairs team that waits until after the district attorney clears officers before interviewing them.

“We need to end any idea or notion of an us-versus-them mentality between community citizens and our Philadelphia police officers,” Nutter said. “But the number of occurrences of police officer-involved shootings reinforced - unfortunately - that the opposite is true: Police, in some communities, can be seen as an occupying force rather than partners with the community.”

The board will report to the mayor and will be led by Temple University law school dean JoAnne Epps. None of the board members will work for the police department.

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