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Sometimes the crimes that require in-depth investigations are committed by people in positions of public trust—including those in law enforcement positions. 

When this happens, it is the job of the Special Investigations Unit of the District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute this public corruption and abuse of government power. 

Our dedicated team of prosecutors, investigators and support staff pursue active prosecutions against government officials, public servants and members of law enforcement who are accused of misconduct.

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“The district attorney’s office has whitewashed police-involved shootings and police corruption for decades. There’s been zero accountability.
We won’t charge every case. But it will look different when we’re not whitewashing.”

LARRY KRASNER
District Attorney
City of Philadelphia

SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: OVERVIEW

Our prosecutors uncover government misconduct and investigate officer-involved shootings.

Special Investigations Unit prosecutors pursue complaints of public corruption in all areas of Philadelphia municipal government—from election fraud and school district wage theft to excessive force cases involving law enforcement and corrections officers. 

They also handle off-duty incidents involving municipal employees that do not result in diversion. This includes investigating every incident of a gun being discharged by a law enforcement, corrections officer, sheriff—anyone in Philadelphia who carries a badge—to determine whether the shooting was justified. 

If the shooting results in a fatality, a prosecutor from our office is sent immediately to the scene of the firearm discharge to begin an investigation. If the shooting is non-fatal, our investigation begins once the Philadelphia Police Department’s Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation team reaches out to our office for assistance.

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“Having a functioning Special Investigations Unit that goes after public corruption, particularly police misconduct, advances criminal justice reform as much as anything else.”

TRACY TRIPP
Supervisor
Special Investigations Unit

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DATA LAB: MEASURING JUSTICE

Special Investigations Hotline to report corruption or official misconduct: 215-686-9646
  • The Special Investigations Unit is responsible for convening and sitting investigative and indicting grand juries.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the SIU coordinated resources to sit grand juries, conduct investigations, and secure indictments even while jury trials were closed.

SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: RESPONSE TO REQUESTS

Our Special Investigations Unit also responds to investigative requests from the Internal Affairs Division of the Philadelphia Police Department.

During our investigations, particularly for longer and more complex cases, special-investigations prosecutors sometimes rely on  an Investigating Grand Jury to help gather and evaluate  evidence, which can include video footage and discrepancies in testimonies and officer reports.

Many of these investigations conclude with the officer being cleared, but in cases where we find sufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing, we prosecute. 

To be transparent, special-investigation prosecutors make public their reports of every shooting, detailing explanations for why the shooting was or was not justified, and their theory and rationale from legal, ethical and moral perspectives. 

All instances of criminal misconduct by all Philadelphia law enforcement agencies are entered into our police misconduct database, which is available to the prosecutors in our office. The cumulative data from reports and this database are continuously analyzed to determine trends and inform policy recommendations for reducing future incidents.