Philadelphia police to delay arrests for some non-violent crimes amid coronavirus
The Philadelphia Police Department instructed its offices to temporarily stop making arrests for certain non-violent crimes until next month amid the coronavirus outbreak. The decision to delay arrests for crimes, including drug offenses, theft and prostitution, was announced in an internal memo released by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Under the new guidelines, those who would normally be arrested would be only temporarily held as authorities confirm identification and complete necessary paperwork. They would be formally arrested at a later date.
The policy maintains that “if an officer believes that releasing an offender would pose a threat to public safety, the officer will notify a supervisor" who could then decide if the suspect should be held. The department is seeking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by implementing social distancing during roll call and suspending non-essential training, among other things. The Philadelphia Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) came out in support of the proposal, saying in a statement to Philadelphia media outlets that the efforts are meant to keep officers safe. “The directive was released to keep officers safe during this public-health crisis," said FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby. “Meanwhile, violent offenders will be arrested and processed with the guidance of a police supervisor.” The move comes as federal officials stress the seriousness of the outbreak, which has killed more than 100 people in the U.S.