Inside Jamison Rogers’ journey to becoming the Citizens Police Oversight Commission of Philadelphia’s first Director of Investigations
A 13-year veteran of the Chester Police Department, he joined the newly-formed Investigations Unit of Philadelphia’s CPOC in March.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Throughout his professional career in law enforcement, Jamison Rogers has notably climbed up the ladder in a relatively quick fashion, making history along the way.
In 2010, Rogers joined the City of Chester Police Department as a patrol officer.
Within just five years of service, he was moved up to become a narcotics investigator and later corporal patrol supervisor.
From 2015 onward, he served as a police detective focused on investigating major crimes and homicides, a role he served in until earlier this year. He was the youngest person of color to reach that rank.
For Rogers, his interest in becoming a police officer began when he was 7 years old.
“And I just happened to never grow out of it,” he said during a recent interview with AL DÍA.
A native of Chester, Pa., Rogers always had a drive to help improve the city that raised him.
“I wanted to be an example of what other young people of color could be a part of,” he said.
After 13 years with the City of Chester Police Department, earlier this year Rogers decided to retire from the department.
In March 2023, Rogers was named the Director of Investigations for the Citizens Police Oversight Commission (CPOC) in Philadelphia.
The mission of the Citizens Police Oversight is to serve the community by helping improve the relationship between police and the community.
“When the opportunity came up of being the Director of Investigations of CPOC in Philadelphia, I really felt that that was just a golden opportunity where I was in my career,” said Rogers.
Ultimately, Rogers felt he could bring a great source of institutional knowledge to the Commission, guided by his decade-plus of experience into this new role.
A Goal Realized
As an AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honoree in 2022, Rogers took part in a Q&A last year that each past honoree has participated in since the event’s inception.
One of the questions asked: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Rogers at the time responded in part, “In five years, I would expect to have progressed into an administrative level of law enforcement… where I would have the responsibility to implement positive policy changes into the ever-evolving profession of law enforcement.”
Less than a year later he finds himself in that situation as the first Director of Investigations for the Citizens Police Oversight Commission.
“It’s a unit that’s never existed before in the history of Philadelphia,” Rogers noted.
In 2021, Philadelphia City Council passed legislation to create the CPOC as an alternative to the Police Advisory Commission (PAC).
Rogers underscored that the difference between the two departments is that PAC “didn’t have a lot of teeth per se, not a lot of authority,” he said.
CPOC is a government oversight agency with authorities that include sending criminal referrals, conducting independent investigations, analyzing the policies, practices and customs of the Philadelphia Police Department, and more.
As its first-ever director, Rogers is on call 24/7 and tasked with building the investigations unit from the ground up, recruiting investigators and ensuring they are professionally trained to be that bridge between law enforcement and the Philadelphia community.
He noted that within the next year, his goal is to have a team of 6 to 10 other investigators, plus himself.
Diversity, Transparency, and Community
Since being installed into his new role in March, Rogers has responded to numerous officer-involved shootings, surveyed crime scenes, and completed independent inquiries based on calls he’s received from community members.
“We’re that safety officer, that extra set of eyes to assure citizens of Philadelphia that the investigations that are ongoing are transparent,” said Rogers.
Transparency is at the top of the list of qualities he brings to the table each day.
As he builds out his team, Rogers is seeking individuals who share that vision.
Philadelphia has the distinction of being the sixth-largest city and having the fourth-largest police department in the United States.
With these distinctions front of mind, among Rogers’ other primary goals is to help grow his investigations unit as a gold standard for oversight agencies across the nation.
“That means having a working relationship with PPD [Philadelphia Police Department], being transparent, having a great relationship with the community, understanding their concerns and allowing them to come to us,” he said.
With Philadelphia’s diverse community of residents, Rogers will also be looking to build his unit with other diverse investigators.
“I am a strong believer that the makeup of a police department should match the makeup of the community that we’re serving,” said Rogers.
Whether it's diversity in race, gender, background, or religion, it’s his belief that diversity can lead to more positive interactions between the community and law enforcement.
As director of the oversight commission, Rogers and the team he is working toward building, will serve as the liaison between the two, providing the path for the community to feel comfortable going to law enforcement when there is an issue.
“We want to make sure that they’re comfortable, that they feel safe, and that their complaints are going to be heard, and that they’re going to be investigated thoroughly,” said Rogers.
“That’s why it’s so important to build this unit with diverse, educated people with an investigative background… so we can be that watchful eye over the PPD,” he concluded.