Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Dissertation Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kristin B. Crossney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark W. Davis, Ph.D., MPA


Complaints against police (e.g., officer involved shootings, stop and frisk, and brutality) in Philadelphia have existed for many decades in the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD); the Internal Affairs Bureau solely investigates these complaints. The lack of officer accountability in the disproportionate number of officer-involved shootings of African American males has led to a national outcry for public administrators to address social inequities in police processes, and the criminal justice system. Public discourse on the determinant for lack of accountability and discipline in complaints against police in Philadelphia is attributed to implicit racial bias and racism towards complainants, who are predominately African American.

This study analyzed complaints against police in Philadelphia from 2013 through early 2018. Data were collected from a local government public domain website entitled Open Data Philly. The study analyzed the relationship between the complainant’s race and the likelihood of a sustained finding (evidence to prove allegations) and discipline administered to offending officers in complaints against police. Black complainants were compared to other races/ethnicities (White, Latino, Asian, and others) and the study controlled for the allegations of physical abuse, lack of service, departmental violations, and other misconduct. The results showed that Blacks filed 63% of the complaints compared to 37% of other races/ethnicities. Black complainants are statistically less likely to have sustained findings in complaints compared to other races/ethnicities. However, race was not a significant factor in discipline because of the high correlation between predictor and dependent variables. A total of 1,066 cases were reviewed; 71 cases concluded with sustained findings and 54 cases resulted in discipline. More research is needed to address racial disparity, understanding of the few sustained and disciplined outcomes, and a collaborative governance approach to promote social equity in police reform.