Authorities in Philadelphia said they will resume arresting suspects for non-violent crimes, halting a controversial emergency COVID-19 arrest policy after a spike in thefts and burglaries, according to multiple reports.
The Philadelphia Police Department said on Friday that it would end the controversial policy imposed in March to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, the novel coronavirus that emerged from China late last year. Under the temporary policy, now revoked, officers detained suspects in certain property crimes only long enough to take their fingerprints and identify them, before letting them go with the intention of filing charges later.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement Friday, as cited by CBS Philadelphia, that the policy was envisaged as a temporary measure that would be adjusted as conditions changed.
“At the time of the change, the department was clear in that the list of offenses was subject to review and revision as conditions continued to evolve,” Outlaw said, CBS reports. “Predictably, conditions have, in fact, evolved in dynamic fashion. Accordingly, we have reviewed our current protocols and have made several adjustments.”
The policy change is driven, in part, by an increase in retail thefts at small businesses and in burglaries committed by repeat offenders, the department said in a statement cited by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The modified arrest procedures will no longer be applied to the following specified offenses, according to Fox29: Burglary, Theft From Auto, Theft From Person, Stolen Auto, and Retail Theft.
Philadelphia’s policy of going soft on certain types of crime drew criticism from some residents and businesses, who argued it would lead to a rise in lawlessness. A group of 20 Philadelphia merchants told ABC6 recently that the policies have led to a rise in shoplifting, sometimes by mobs.
“People are coming in the store, they’re loading their bag and they’re actually telling us the law, that they’re not gonna get locked up,” merchant Sukhvir Thinb told ABC6.
“It’s a lawless city, it’s the Wild West. That’s what’s happening here,” said Vincent Emmanuel, treasurer of the Delaware Valley Franchise Owners Association, in remarks to ABC6.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 president John McNesby told the Inquirer that with “crime likely to spike” in summer months, “our well-trained officers are committed to keeping this city safe, we understand the need to pivot and begin to aggressively fight crime that is impacting all neighborhoods.”