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May 02, 2020

Philadelphia police to resume making arrests for nonviolent crimes following pause due to COVID-19

A stoppage on arrests for certain crimes due to coronavirus has come to an end, the Police Commissioner announced Friday

Police Arrests
Police resume nonviolent arrests The Oregonian/YouTube

The Philadelphia Police Department will resume making arrests for nonviolent crimes, following a pause on doing so due to the public health crisis. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, pictured above, announced the change in a memo released Friday.

Philadelphia police said they would resume making arrests for nonviolent crimes in an announcement Friday. 

Officers are once again being instructed to make on-site arrests for burglary, retail theft, stolen vehicles, and other offenses. An order in March had put a temporary pause on such arrests, as part of an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Friday's announcement was officially reversed in a memo signed by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. In the new announcement, police will also be permitted to make arrests for narcotics sales again, but with special permission, reported Billy Penn.

The initial order meant to limit jail crowding to reduce inmate transmission of coronavirus, adhere to court closures prompted by the public health pandemic, and prevent officers from getting sick. 

For the past six weeks, police have continued to track illegal activity by fingerprinting suspected criminals to be charged at a later date, reported The Hill. Arrests for crimes such as vandalism and prostitution have reportedly been delayed.

In a news release, Police Commissioner Outlaw says that the pause on nonviolent arrests was always meant to be temporary, and current city conditions have prompted that pause to end. 

"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," said Police Outlaw. "Predictably, conditions have, in fact, evolved in dynamic fashion."

Those conditions could be a reported increase in commercial burglaries and retail theft, both of which are 25% or higher this year than at the same time in 2019, according to data released by Philadelphia government officials.

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