The city of Philadelphia is going to stop putting certain criminals behind bars effective immediately, officials announced this week.
The move comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of incarcerating individuals caught breaking the law, cops are instructed to give offenders a citation and then let them go provided they don’t appear to be a threat to public safety.
Per Fox29, crimes for which there will be a cite-and-set-free approach include:
- All narcotics offenses
- Theft from persons
- Retail theft
- Theft from auto
- All bench warrants
- Stolen auto
- Economic crimes
Clarification of PPD’s temporary response model in light of Covid-19 pic.twitter.com/8eMiUb17qD— Danielle M. Outlaw (@PPDCommish) March 18, 2020
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw assured residents that despite the new protocols, the department is “not turning a blind eye to crime.”
“This temporary response model was implemented to protect our officers, and the communities we serve, from becoming infected or spreading COVID-19,” Commissioner Outlaw said in a statement. “Additionally, these protocols allow us to adjust to the changing availability of resources within other areas of the criminal justice system.”
“To reiterate, criminal offenders will be held accountable for the crimes they commit,” she concluded.
John McNesby, the president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, supported the decision.
“We are supportive of Commissioner Outlaw’s directive on making arrests during the Coronavirus crisis,” said McNesby. “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.”
Hard not to see how this doesn’t backfire in a big, big way. Consider the Broken Windows Theory, which posits that when urban municipalities are lax on stopping petty crime it fosters an environment where more serious crime spreads. That’s exactly what Philly is setting itself up for.
When the truly bad eggs see prostitutes, looters and drug addicts hanging out on the corner and operating with what amounts to impunity — they’re not being put behind bars — it’s signal that no one cares anymore, or no one is policing the area to a degree that matters, and it sends a signal that it’s basically a free-for-all to do whatever to whoever. Not good.
Combine that with the fact that Philly is rather restrictive when it comes to issuing pistol permits and, therefore, probably has a lot of unarmed citizens and you have a situation that can get out of hand very, very quickly.
I mean, it’s easy to do the math: Resources are stretched thin due to pandemic + police aren’t incarcerating offenders + public is largely unarmed and defenseless = a field day for bad guys.
It only gets worse from there. As crime skyrockets, politicians panic and invoke martial law. Citizens’ rights are targeted and the confiscation of any and all firearms begins… and then folks we’re well on our way to tyranny. But hey, hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. Not in Philly, not anywhere. Fingers crossed.