Philadelphia police are now required to politely ask criminals to stop engaging in certain crimes, such as defecating in the street, before officers can actually take action, according to an internal memo from the department obtained by Fox 29 reporter Steve Keeley.
“The City’s statistical expert has reviewed the Department’s stops to identify any racial disparity,” the internal memo reads. “For years, our expert could not conclusively determine that racial disparity existed in our stops.”
Scoop: New @PhillyPolice internal memo “Modifying quality of life crimes enforcement. Our own expert has determined that racial disparity does exist in certain types of car & pedestrian stops.” List below of “Quality of life offenses” to get new treatment 1/6 @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/8IWKqjZDsF
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) July 29, 2021
The city’s expert has since deduced that “racial disparity does exist in certain types of stops,” according to the memo. (RELATED: Dealing With Record-High Murder Rates, Philadelphia Struggling To Recruit Police Officers)
“The purpose of the Modified Quality of Life Enforcement Pilot Program is NOT to abandon quality of life enforcement, but rather to provide offenders an opportunity to cease and desist such activities, prior to the issuance of any citations.”
Officers must “FIRST engage only in a mere encounter with the individual and request the individual stop engaging in the prohibited behavior,” the memo reads. Offenders will be free to leave and will not be detained. If the individual refuses to comply with the cease and desist command, then officers can proceed normally.
Among the offenses subject to the new pilot program include “spitting,” “public urination or defecation,” “defiant trespass[ing],” and “prostitution.”
The changes are in response to a 2010 lawsuit in which eight black Philadelphia residents sued the city after officers allegedly discriminated against the individuals during stop-and-frisk encounters.
The new three-month long pilot program was ordered by a federal judge, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.