As measures across both public and private sectors address the spread of COVID-19, police in Philadelphia implement a temporary policy regarding arrests.
In order to protect their officers and help stem the spread of the coronavirus, Philadelphia’s police officers won’t make arrests for certain non-violent offenses. However, individuals caught for such offenses still face arrest. At a later date, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
While Danielle Outlaw, Philadelphia’s police commissioner, mentioned the suspension of non-violent arrests, it wasn’t clear what specific infractions she referred to. No definitive policy outlines what crimes merit arrest. Instead, police determine on a case by case basis.
Factors in their determination include an individual’s criminal record, the nature of the crime at hand, and whether police deem them a threat to the community.
Outlaw assured the public that, despite the new temporary policy, police remain vigilant and effectual.
Arrests Delayed, Warrants Issued At Later Date
The new process replaces the transport of perpetrators to a detective division with temporary detainment. While under temporary detainment, the officer confirms the perpetrator’s identity and completes the necessary paperwork for the infraction.
In response to the new policy, Outlaw received support from the local police union. John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, said, “The directive was released to keep officers safe during this public-health crisis. Meanwhile, violent offenders will be arrested and processed with the guidance of a police supervisor.”
The move follows similar measures in other cities across the country. Both Forth Worth and Denver police departments ceased arrests for certain low-level offenses. Brooklyn’s district attorney declines the prosecution of unnecessary non-violent offenses. Additionally, courthouses shutter, jury trials delay, and other courts utilize video for arraignments.
Many cities also suspended parking tickets, providing respite from fees for people quarantining themselves in-home.
Collectively, efforts by law enforcement aim to stem the spread of COVID-19. Most continue through March, though may see extensions as the situation develops.