Even under Covid-19 lockdown, crime flourishes in the City of Brotherly Love.

A. Benjamin Mannes
Last week, Philadelphia’s police department reported that criminal activity in the first three months of this year increased by double-digit percentages when compared with the same period in 2019—the most violent year since 2007. So far in 2020, property and violent crimes have spiked by 16 percent and 11 percent, respectively, with the largest increases in retail theft—which skyrocketed 59 percent, after district attorney Larry Krasner announced that his office wouldn’t prosecute that crime—and other serious violent offenses, such as aggravated assault, up by 20 percent.

Though the Philadelphia Inquirer has tried to downplay the spike in crime, statistics show that, even as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, crime has increased overall, despite a slight dip during the city’s first full week of shutdowns. According to the city’s managing director, Brian Abernathy, the police department has deployed officers in more visible posts along commercial corridors to prevent property crime during the outbreak. This news, however, comes just a week after Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, newly transplanted from Portland, announced that her department—in response to the pandemic—will no longer make arrests for all narcotics offenses; thefts from persons, retail, and autos; burglaries, vandalism, and fraud; and prostitution. In addition, she announced a moratorium on bench-warrant arrests. The relaxed enforcement is motivated by health concerns for officers and inmates.

In an internal memo, Outlaw stated that officers should “temporarily detain the offender for the length of time required to confirm identity (this may require the deployment of mobile fingerprint scanners); prepare all relevant paper work; [and] release offender.” Then, once the alleged criminal is released back on the streets, the department sends an arrest-warrant affidavit to the district attorney’s charging unit. If the charges are approved, detectives will obtain arrest warrants to “be served at a later time.” Outlaw continued: “If an officer believes that releasing the offender would pose a threat to public safety, the officer will notify a supervisor, who will review the totality of the circumstances and utilize discretion, in the interests of public safety, in determining the appropriate course of action.”

Thanks , catch and release. Riiiight. Read the rest here: City Journal