The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone. All kinds of workers that interface with the public in the United States are compromised, and so many cities and local municipalities are making changes to some of their essential workforce staffing. Hours are being adjusted. Access to the community is being limited. Drastic measures are being discussed that unlike ever before borderline creating fear versus squelching it.
Philadelphia is such a city.
In a confidential memorandum from the Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, commanders were notified that law enforcement would delay arrest for a series of “nonviolent crimes” in efforts to free up police for serious work and not to expose them to the public as frequently as they normally are. Some of these offenses the memo said authorities would not be locking people up for are as follows: nonviolent crimes, including drug offenses, theft, and prostitution.
In the memo: a boldfaced and highlighted paragraph notes that “if an officer believes that releasing the offender would pose a threat to public safety, the officer will notify a supervisor, who will review the totality of the circumstances and utilize discretion, in the interest of public safety, in determining the appropriate course of action.”
Excerpts from the memo are as follows:
Effective Today (March 17, 2020), during the 4 pm x 12 am tour, arrests for the following offenses will be effectuated via Arrest Warrant:
- All Narcotics Offenses
- Theft from persons
- Retail Theft
- Theft from auto
- All Bench warrants
- Stolen auto
- Economic Crimes (bad checks, fraud)
The Philadelphia Inquirer states that “Even as the coronavirus pandemic has led officials to largely shut down Philadelphia and left its streets and subways nearly empty, violent crime has continued unabated.”
Reporting that police have recorded only “three homicides, nine shootings, three stabbings, and one police-involved shooting of a man with a gun.”
Police also stated that as of Friday, March 20th, Philly homicide numbers were at a 26% increase, totaling 86. Last year at this time the number was 66.
The Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement supporting the decision, which covers all narcotics offenses, thefts, burglary, vandalism, prostitution, stolen cars, economic crimes, such as bad checks and fraud, and any existing bench warrants.