The Philadelphia police revealed Tuesday exactly which crimes officers will temporarily stop arresting people for amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In an internal memo to department commanders, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced the department would temporarily stop arresting individuals for certain nonviolent crimes to prevent jail overcrowding during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Those crimes include:
- All narcotics offenses
- Personal, retail, and vehicle theft
- Electronic crimes like fraud
In addition, the memo said police will temporarily suspend enforcement of bench warrants.
Instead of arresting offenders and transporting them to jail for processing, the internal memo directed police officers to temporarily detain offenders, confirm their identity, prepare "all relevant paperwork," then release the offender. Detectives will later investigate the cases and obtain arrest warrants if necessary. The warrants, though, "will be served at a later time, as conditions dictate."
For offenders considered to "pose a threat to public safety," officers should contact their supervisor who will then use discretion to determine whether or not the offender should be jailed, the memo states.
Those who commit violent crimes will continue to be processed normally.
What was the response?
In response to the memo, the Philadelphia Police Department was promptly blasted on social media.
"For the criminals in town, good to know. For the citizens of Philly, not so much," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said.
"How is it possibly a good idea to publicly announce this? This is pretty much the opposite of 'broken windows policy.' Call it 'go ahead and break the windows' policy," said Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the DailyWire.com.
"That right there is why you own guns," one person responded.
"Brb, gotta go steal a car and buy some hookers and blow with bad checks," one person mocked.
"Buy guns buy ammo," another person said.
"Why would they even print this? It's just going to encourage the bad behavior. Basically it's open season for stealing," another person responded.
"This police dept is openly saying they won't protect their citizens and police around the country are doing the exact same thing. During a pandemic is when we need to uphold the rule of law the most! This is insane," another person said.