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September 1, 2014, 10:16 pm

Council scrutinizes parole board after slaying

Alleged cop slayer freed 10 days before shooting


Taking a look at the state Board of Probation and Parole, City Council will hold hearings on the board’s practices and procedures, in a move approved this week by Council.

“I fear for the public safety of our city,” Councilman Dennis O’Brien who proposed the hearings, citing the murder of police officer Moses Walker Jr., who was shot and killed on Aug. 18. “We should look at all of the board’s policies and unwritten rules of practice.”

Walker’s alleged killer, Rafael Jones, had been released from prison just 10 days before the murder. He was apparently freed on “special probation.”

A state investigation into the matter led to the firing of three employees late last month. A board spokesperson said at the time that the investigation has resulted in changes to board procedures.

O’Brien remained unconvinced.

Walker’s “alleged killer should have been an wearing electronic monitoring device, but was never fitted for one. The alleged killer should have been arrested after failing a court ordered drug test, but remained free on the streets,” O’Brien said.

The councilman worried that board officials were more concerned with lowering the recidivism numbers and coping with prison overcrowding than with public safety.

“I fear the numbers are driving this issue … dictating policy,” he said.

Prodding the U.S. lawmakers to take action to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” Council approved a resolution introduced by W. Wilson Goode Jr., urging Congress and the president to end the Bush tax cuts, preserve Social Security and Medicare and boost education and infrastructure spending.

“This is a national issue that demands a local voice,” Goode said. “Because, it will have local consequences.”

Members voted on a number of measures as they prepared for their winter recess. The last meeting of the fall session is Dec. 13.

Council also unanimously agreed to hold hearings looking into a school district plan to close 46 schools. The education committee, led by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell will hold the hearings, which have not yet been scheduled.

Hearings will also be held to look into the possibility of a city partnership with a nonprofit in operating a casino. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson called the hearings to examine the “feasibility and legality” of the idea, which he called an “extraordinary opportunity.”

The Nutter administration contends the idea is illegal.

In a preview of next week’s meeting, Blackwell and Councilman David Oh got into a squabble over his proposal that would penalize skateboarders and bikers for intentionally damaging public monuments, memorials or works of art.

Though Council is not expected to vote on the bill until next week, Oh proposed an amendment that would lower the fine he first proposed two months ago.

Oh introduced the administration bill in October, but it was tabled after Blackwell objected. In its original form, it would have imposed a $75 fine or arrest for anyone vandalizing or destroying public or private memorials or artwork. It also gave judges the authority to impose fines up to $2,000 and 90 days in jail for repeat offenders. In the amendment that sparked this week’s debate, Oh suggested lowering the maximum fine to $1,000.

The move did not sway Blackwell.

Finally, Council backed a resolution urging the administration to delay implementation of a controversial plan to put firefighters on five-year rotations to companies across the city. Councilman Jim Kenney drafted the resolution which was backed by the entire council.

Kenney recently convened hearings on the re-deployment, which is wildly unpopular with the city’s firefighters’ union. At Thursday’s meeting, he said the idea “needs further conversation.”

Administration officials plan to begin re-deployments on Jan. 1.


To comment, contact staff writer Eric Mayes at 215-893-5742 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .