Law enforcement officials posed with the captured inmate Danelo Cavalcante for a photo shortly before he was transported to police barracks, according to officials.
When asked about the photo during a news conference, Lt. Col. George Bivens said he was aware of it, saying “those men and women worked amazingly hard through some very trying circumstances — they’re proud of their work.”
“I’m not bothered at all by the fact that they took a photograph with him in custody. Again, they’re proud of their work. They kept the community safe. I say thanks to them and good job,” he added.
In the photo, Cavalcante was positioned in the front, with an officer holding his arms. One officer holding a 22-caliber rifle went down to one knee and held the weapon up. The K-9 dogs involved in the search stepped toward the front. And other officers in the back spread out to get a clear view. Together, they all looked in one direction – at an officer holding up a phone to take a photo.
In all, about 500 law enforcement officers – including members of the Pennsylvania State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and US Marshals – participated in the manhunt for Cavalcante.
The inmate was captured Wednesday morning by a tactical team from the State Police and the US Border Patrol. A police dog subdued the fugitive before officers took him and his stolen .22-caliber rifle into custody, Bivens said.
The group photo was one of a number of police photos taken of Cavalcante. Displayed next to Bivens at the news conference was a photo of the fugitive in handcuffs and wearing a Philadelphia Eagles sweatshirt.
CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller said he believed a photo of the captured fugitive was important to show the community that the threat of the past two weeks was no more.
“I think it has a legitimate public purpose rather just for their photo collection,” he said.
Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, expressed his disapproval of the group shot, referring to the image as a “trophy photo.”
“I’m not a fan of that sort of thing. Be professional,” he said. “You got him in custody. Do your job, and the rest of that stuff save for some other place.”
CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI director Andrew McCabe said there was nothing illegal about the photo and praised the officers’ efforts even as he acknowledged some criticism.
“Anything that we do that creates an impression of gratuitousness or kind of self-congratulatory feel, I think doesn’t help the public’s perception of law enforcement,” McCabe said. “I think it’s unfortunate but pretty small compared to the massive accomplishment they achieved.”