Judge Reassigned After Clash Over Officer's Photo
Philadelphia police officers are outraged at a judge who dishonored and degraded the memory of Officer John Pawlowski who was murdered in the line of duty last Friday evening.
A photo of Officer John Pawlowski was in a place of honor on desk of the roll call room in the 35th Police District station. That roll call room also serves as a court for the judicial district.
When Judge Craig Washington began a court session in the 35th District's roll call room, he ordered uniformed Philadelphia Court Officer Blanca Rodriquez to remove the photo. Officer Blanca refused. The judge then told Captain John McCloskey, the commanding officer 35th Police District to remove the photo. He also refused.Claiming that he could not be "impartial" if that the photo of Officer Pawlowski was on the roll call room, desk Judge Washington turned the photo of Officer Pawlowski's face down asserting the photo was inappropriate and a distraction.
Outraged members of the Philadelphia Police Department led by former FOP President Rich Costello confronted Judge Washington in a heated exchange which was captured by CBS3.
Costello went face to face with Judge Washington. "Where the hell do you get that the photo of the slain officer is inappropriate. Cite judicial precedent . . ." Costello demanded. "What is improper about the photograph of a slain police officer."
Current FOP President John McNesby held a news conference where he sadly observed, "It's bad enough that police officers are being murdered by repeat violent offenders, who are let go by the same type of judges that we dealt with today."
Officer John Pawlowski was a five-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department. The funeral will be held on Friday, February 20, 2009 at noon at the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. Officer Pawlowski leaves a wife who is pregnant with their first child.
The suspect in the killing is Rasheed Scruggs who has been notified that he will be arraigned on first degree murder charges.
Judge Washington has been reassigned. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Washington, 59, was elected a Municipal Court judge in 1997. In 2003, the voters retained him for another six-year term. The judgeship pays about $154,000 a year." He will be on the ballot for retention of his position in 2009.