Another Philadelphia Police Officer, John Pawlowski, has been murdered in the line of duty, and, once again, the killer is a career criminal who was treated leniently by the criminal justice system, and, in the words of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, “should not have been among us, period.”


Ramsey calls suspect “cold-blooded killer”

By Barbara Boyer and Michael Matza, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writers

The suspect in Friday night’s murder of a Philadelphia patrolman is an “unsalvageable” career criminal who “should not have been among us, period,” Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said today.

“This guy was just a cold-blooded killer who made a statement prior that if police showed up, he was going to kill them,” Ramsey said. “That was his mind-set, and that was his intent.”

Simmering with anger over the death of 25-year-old Officer John Pawlowski – the eighth officer to die from on-duty injuries in less than three years – Ramsey was accompanied at a midafternoon news conference by Homicide Division Capt. James Clark.

Clark identified the suspect as Rasheed Scrugs, 33, of West Philadelphia, whose decade-long rap sheet includes several aliases and multiple arrests for theft, robbery and gun crimes. Scrugs was wounded by police after Pawlowski was shot, and was in critical condition last night.

When Ramsey was asked at the news conference about the injuries to Scrugs, pain and sadness clearly overwhelmed his usual discretion and decorum.

“He wasn’t hit enough. That’s the only thing that matters,” he said. “I don’t care.”

Mr Scruggs had been through the criminal justice system:

Born in 1975, Scrugs was first arrested as an adult for shoplifting at 18. Those charges were withdrawn. Over the next three years, he was arrested several times on counts of robbery, receiving stolen property, assault and gun crimes. Many of those charges were dismissed or withdrawn by prosecutors in apparent plea bargains. The most serious charges were held for trial.

In June 1997, he pleaded guilty to robbery and carrying a fire arm without a license. Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer sentenced him to a minimum of five years and a maximum 10 years in prison.

He served five years and was paroled. In 2002, he violated parole and was sent back to prison in 2004 for six months months. He was released again in 2005.

It does not appear he was on probation when he was arrested in September on charges of car theft and receiving stolen property.

His next court date on those charges is Wednesday.

Emphasis mine.

Crime was reduced significantly in New York City when former Mayor Rudolf Guiliani instituted a program where minor offenses were not just ignored, where the police and prosecutors aggressively pursued charges for minor offenses, trying to get the bad guys off the streets before they they became really bad guys; the City of Brotherly love somehow never saw the wisdom of that.

One of the things that got to me was a column by Annette John-Hall in today’s Inquirer. Mrs John-Hall goes through the same old rigamarole of saying that we shuld not give up on the community:

Sure, it’s tempting to throw up your hands and write off a whole generation of young men on their way to becoming Rasheed Scrugses. As a seething Ramsey declared Saturday at a news conference: “Lock them up, throw away the key. Build another prison. Don’t let them out.”

But somewhere along the way, we have to step in. Because there’s a fine line between the path Rasheed Scrugs took and the path Charles Gibbs is taking.

The Charles Gibbs about whom Mrs John-Hall wrote is an admirable fellow, a law student, intent on doing good things. Mrs John-Hall noted that Mr Gibbs was the beneficiary of having some caring adults around him, from the single mother who reared his sister and him, and scraped up the money to send them to Catholic school, the “block captains,” and the police officers of the 18th District.

But Mrs John-Hall failed to note something else: as there were good people who helped rear Mr Gibbs properly, there were in-community enablers who allowed Mr Scruggs to live and prey in their heighborhood.

It’s clear that the criminal justice system in Philadelphia is a criminal enabler, because it does not take things seriously until they become very serious. We read about thugs who should have been off the street being on the street only when they do something really newsworthy, which, in Philadelphia, has meant killing a police officer. The system enables the petty thugs the freedom to graduate into the big time.

But there are other enablers. The people who live around the thugs, the people who befriend them, who tolerate their behavior, the people who know that their neighbors are bad guys dealing in crack and robbing cabbies and do nothing and say nothing, the people who wear the “Stop Snitchin'” t-shirts and the parents who give them the money to buy them, the people who see the goons as role models and the, let me be very blunt here, women who sleep with them, these people enable the thugs to remain thugs.

These are the people Mrs John-Hall needs to see, needs to tell us about. Instead, she wrote about Mr Gibbs, apparently a fine young man, but someone who is being made a hero simply for doing the right thing. Too often, it seems that doing the right thing is the exception rather than the expectation.

And that told us more about the problem than Mrs John-Hall ever realized.


  1. You may or may not be surprised to learn that it was the essentially the Biden crime bill, and not so much Giuliani, that was primarily responsible for reducing crime in New York City, and elsewhere.

    Imagine that!

  2. Mrs Miller: If it was “essentially the Biden crime bill, and not so much Giuliani, that was primarily responsible for reducing crime in New York City, and elsewhere,” they why are Philadelphia Police Officers falling at such an alarming rate? How is it that it worked in New York City, but didn’t work in Philadelphia?

    And please, give us the hyperlink to the bill, so we know exactly to which bill you have referred.

  3. Mrs. Miller? You make a lot of assumptions…but, you know what…call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner! :)

    I think the situation in Philly may have something to do with the Bush administration not providing funding for cops … or some such thing. Didn’t Bush cut this funding?

    Just google the Biden Crime Bill…unfortunately, his Senate site is gone – I’m still trying to get over the loss. :(

  4. Dana,

    Here is a link that you may find interesting…there are lots more out there but I think this may be an informative one.

  5. Miss Miller? Dr Miller? I’ll accept anything realistic, sabe Ms, that abomination unto the Lord!

    unfortunately, his Senate site is gone – I’m still trying to get over the loss.

    Alas! So am I! Were his Senate site still up, he’d still be a senator — and John McCain would be President!

    I think the situation in Philly may have something to do with the Bush administration not providing funding for cops … or some such thing. Didn’t Bush cut this funding?

    The situation in the City of Brotherly Love obtains because Philly has had too much of a catch-and-release attitude when it comes to criminals; they only get serious after a really serious crime has been committed. Officer Charles Cassidy is in his grave because his killer, who had been identified, by name, as the perpetrator of an armed robbery a week and a half earlier never even had the police seek a warrant for his arrest for that.

  6. Biden is your typical Liberal with a soft spot for thugs. Throwing money at a problem is not a solution.

    There is also a rather perverse sense of prosecutorial priorities. Look at all the print and bandwidth devoted to Mr. Phelps. Why is some two-bit sheriff trying to get a trophy conviction for something that a real narcotics cop would ignore? Phelps was no O.J. Simpson or Michael Vick but a young man who hurt no other person.

    A few more executions might demonstrate a downside to violent crime.

  7. Dana,

    You may simply call me Elizabeth but, I’m with you on the ‘Ms’ title. Besides, titles are so formal and I hate formalities.

    I have to thank you PROFUSELY for essentially admitting that the Obama would not have won the presidential election without Biden. I just new that was the case but thanks again for confirming it!

    I guess a bit of an introduction is in order since I may be contributing my two cents worth around here, from time to time. I am a citizen of the great big blue (more or less) ‘state’ to the north which I am hoping will become the 51st state sometime soon – I say that only half-jokingly. What you don’t know about Canadian politics you can bloody thank your lucky stars for…I kid you not!

    Anyway, I’ve always been a fan of America – or, at least, the promise of America. It shouldn’t be too surprising that my interest in American politics lies primarily in US foreign policy or that I should have found my way to US foreign policy according to Joe Biden, a foreign policy and national security leader, after all. You can imagine how thrilled I was when Biden officially entered the 2008 presidential race and how I gained new respect for Obama when he announced Biden as his running mate…or, perhaps that will remain a mystery to you. :) I guess you could call me a political junkie and say that politics are in my blood – though I have no idea where it comes from as I am the only one in my small circle of family and friends who shares my political interests. I guess that’s why I’m here and frequent a handful of other political blogs. Anyway, it’s all nothing more than a hobby of sorts for me. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    As for the Philadelphia situation, it sounds as though there are some real problems down there and I just hope that it gets fixed by somebody…and fast!

    By the way, I just wanted to say that you have a very interesting blog here and a great sense of humour, too.

  8. Elizabeth, I would use a snarky line like “if Canada became part of the US, you’d finally get to use real money” but with the state of events now, I’m not so sure I can anymore.

  9. Hey Art,

    When the heck are you guys gonna finally opt for decriminalization? I’m totally with you on the Phelps thing.

    Actually, this is one issue that I may find myself in disagreement with Biden. I’m not drinking the kool-aide ALL the time, ya know. Geesh.

  10. John,

    You make a very good point. However, when we become the 51st state, we’re bringing our money with us!

    Trust me, you will soon learn to love our loonies and toonies and our paper currency in any number of pastel shades complete with embedded ghost faces that put the counterfeiters out of business, more or less. Really, you’ll forget all about your greenbacks in no time at all as our colourful money is one of our best features. :)

  11. The 2007 Biden bill was the usual garbage that included pork and more silly gun laws.

    Note that our domestic politicians who are thug-friendly take on protective coloration to show that they are really tough on crime by supporting laws that merely disarm victims.

    Delaware had a problem with a lack of Federal judges. A candidate rated ‘well qualified’ by the ABA was blocked by Biden so a softie appointed by Obama (another thug-hugger who talks a different line) could get the slot.

  12. Art,

    It was the 1994 Biden Crime Bill I was talking about…well, it was the Clinton crime bill but Biden wrote it! And, it threw cops – and a lot of ’em – at the problem, not just money.

    By the way, I can’t believe you’re in DE and you’re not a Biden fan. What’s up with that?

    I’ve heard Biden called a lot of things – don’t even ask – but thug-hugger is a new one for me.

  13. Here in the United States we have a Constitution to define the responsibilities of government, which basically fall within the bounderies of what is best for the general well being of the public. There is no more time for fussing around about who’s smoking pot. The economy’s gone to pot and we’ve got to stop the nonsense. Legalizing hemp and the notorious cannabis flowers would greatly improve the effectiveness and accountability of government. It’s not a cure all but the government could use the huge cut in spending that would come with the end of prohibition. The end of cannabis prohibition would drastically improve the efficiency of our judicial system. Many billions of dollars a year are spent on a law enforcement sheme with very minimal public benefit. While keeping the pot illegal does give the government an excuse to keep a close eye on hippies and shady characters, it isn’t worth it to have all that money and time getting spent chasing some nuisance characters when the state is already overloaded with public programs.

    The drug war doesn’t work and therefore makes a mockery of our highly capable law enforcement agencies.There are too many ways that our brave police officers can find themselves caught up in borderline criminal activities while spending time policing the drug world, distracted from their real duties. We believe that if you turn drug use into a private personal issue, instead of a state issue, the black market dealers will loose the thrust of their power and all that money they’ve been making would be in back in the legitimate markets. Let’s just focus on real crimes which pose a provable threat to public safety, like gang violence, professional thieving and sexual predators. While pot smoking is notoriously controvercial among Conservatives, it doesn’t deserve our attention as a primary issue in this critical time of trial and tribulation. There’s no sense in sending out the swat teams for an herb that’s no more mind altering than common cold medicines and is not killing anyone.

  14. The drug war was begun under T. Roosevelt and it turned a medical problem into a criminal one. The trade in certain substances should be dealt with serverly.

    The ‘pot problem’ was a creation of Legislators and demonstrated that we do not send our brightest and best to Washington.

    The campaign against the substance was based on a movie called ‘Reefer Madness’ and some treated it as a documentary.

    My modest proposal would be to legalize homegrown. This would take criminal profits out out the picture.

    Forget the lies about ‘gateway drugs’. This claptrap confuses cause with effect. Does table wine and beer ‘lead’ to chugging wood alcohol? I’ve known hundreds of people who took a few tokes but encountered only one (former) IV drug user in my life and he was someone I met at a party and never saw again.

    Those who subscribe to the ‘gateway drug’ theory could claim that youthful masturbation led to violent sex crimes. One has to start somewhere, I suppose.

    We need to deal with the real monsters among us and keep them locked up for a long time or sent on a date with a needle.

    There is only one cure for a sociopath and that is execution.

  15. Pingback: Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archive » Brian Grady: the wrong man for the job.

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