Philadelphia officials say they will begin hiring unarmed and unsworn traffic enforcement officers this month.
City Council President Darrell Clarke first offered a plan to create a new class of “public safety officers” in the spring of 2019, partially as a reaction to increasing downtown congestion. A related ballot measure passed with overwhelming support later that year and empowered new, uniformed safety officers with the ability to issue citations for some traffic offenses, the Philadelphia Tribune reports.
In March of 2020, Mayor Jim Kenney committed $1.9 million in funding to the Philadelphia Police Department to create a class of about 20 Public Safety Enforcement officers. But officials hit pause on the plan last year, blaming the pandemic. At that time, officials hoped the officers would roll out this year. Then, last month, administration spokesperson Joy Huertas said the city plans to post the officer job listings by the end of October. But residents shouldn’t expect to see the officers hit the streets until the spring of 2022 at the earliest.
“The goal is to launch the program early in the new year,” Huertes said.
The officers will eventually focus on directing and managing traffic, spotting illegal or unpermitted activity and enforcing parking and traffic regulations, like parking in a crosswalk or double parking, or unpermitted right-of-way closures or encroachments, according to the Kenney administration.
All officers will receive four weeks of training on motor vehicle regulations, safety, implicit bias, and citation issuance, according to the city. Officers will report to Michael Carroll, the Deputy Managing Director for the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability.
The new officers will come on the scene soon after a new city law banning police officers from stopping drivers for so-called minor traffic infractions such as a broken tail light or a failure to show an inspection sticker.