"Cops in Philadelphia have stopped making arrests for an array of crimes – including drugs, theft and sex work – adopting a catch-and-release policy for the span of the Covid-19 crisis, in what some saw as a step toward anarchy.
The city’s (perhaps aptly named) Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw ordered the dramatic policy change on Tuesday, detailed in a memo leaked to local media outlets. Starting on March 17, officers were instructed to only briefly detain those caught committing a laundry list of non-violent offenses, ranging from car and retail theft – which would cover looting – burglary, possession and distribution of narcotics, fraud, vandalism and prostitution, among others.
Due to the coronavirus crisis, Philadelphia police will no longer be making arrests for all narcotics offenses, theft from persons, retail theft, theft from auto, burglary, vandalism, bench warrants, stolen autos, economic crimes such as passing bad checks, fraud, & prostitution. pic.twitter.com/R2OZSPMKHO— Rob O'Donnell (@odonnell_r) March 17, 2020
After verifying a suspect’s identity, officers were ordered to release the offender and submit all relevant paperwork to the department’s detective division, which will pursue arrest warrants sometime after the pandemic scare dies down – at least that’s the plan.
A number of netizens saw the move as an open invitation to looters to start filling their pockets, with some wondering what other crimes might be allowed to slide as police are directed to look the other way.
Others interpreted the change in procedure as an object lesson on the need for the Second Amendment, with many encouraging their fellow commenters to find a way to defend themselves in the event of a crime wave.
Some took a wholly different approach to the news, however, planning out mock crime sprees while the opportunity presents itself.
In Los Angeles, meanwhile, city officials have directed police to cite and release offenders whenever possible in an effort to make room in its already crowded jails and stem the spread of the virus, while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is now contemplating whether to release non-violent inmates for similar reasons, a plan backed by the city’s Board of Correction."
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