One day after Philadelphia courts closed until April 1 to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw notified commanders Tuesday that police will be delaying arrests for nonviolent crimes, including drug offenses, theft, and prostitution.
The announcement came in an internal memo outlining protections including social distancing during roll call and emphasizing the importance of the public’s safety, as well as the safety of officers. A boldfaced, yellow-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 would decide whether the suspect should be held.
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.
“The directive was released to keep officers safe during this public-health crisis," FOP Lodge 5 president John McNesby told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Meanwhile, violent offenders will be arrested and processed with the guidance of a police supervisor.”