Philadelphia has its best opportunity in eight years to live up to its historical reputation as "the city of brotherly love." Under combative, tough-talking Mayor Frank Rizzo, Philadelphia too often seemed and anything but a city that could boast of tolerance. Now with the new Mayor, Frank Green, taking control of city affairs this week, proclaiming "the politics of inclusion" and committed to healing the racial tensions that divided police and minorities and helped tarnish the city's image during the Rizzo reign, the future looks a bit more promising for the nation's fourth largest city.
Mayor Green's appointment of Morton Solomon, a 30-year veteran of the police force, to assume the critical role of Police Commissioner was an important one. It seems carefully calculated to mollify both minorities, who have long complained of police brutality, and rank-and-file officers, fearful that law enforcement would lose out after the free rein the Police Department had under Mr. Rizzo. Mr. Solomon has not been criticized for encouraging police abuses as have other Police Department administrators, although he was among 19 top city and law enforcement officials named in an unprecedented Justice Department suit last year charging the Rizzo administration with fostering police brutality.
Mayor Green and Commissioner Solomon could do much to restore racial harmony and the spirit of "brotherly love" Philadelphia sorely needs by following through on Mr. Solomon's pledge to examine the use of "deadly force" by police against minorities and to establish written guidelines aimed at curbing brutality. The new city administration faces a host of other urgent problems, not the least of which are a $73 million budget gap, 12 percent unemployment, deteriorating housing, and the need to restore good working relations with Washington and Harrisburg, the state capital.
The Green administration will need the help and cooperation of all sectors of the city -- minorities, police, and business -- to resolve these. What better place to start rebuilding a climate of social and economic stability than for the Mayor and the Police Commissioner to show they mean business in cutting out the alleged police-state tactics of the past?