PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Philadelphia court system is getting its proverbial head handed to it on social media. At least three police captains, a department inspector, and a city councilman have issued blistering criticism over how recent firearm violation cases were handled in the courts. Their anger and frustrations were shockingly evident.
On Twitter, Philly police brass publicly throttled a Philadelphia magistrate who set bail for a defendant who had close to a dozen prior firearms violations.
The captain from the 12th District located in southwest Philadelphia posted on Twitter Saturday night. Commanding Officer Scott Drissel tweeted:
“This is a disgrace. DAO working with us helping to get high bail and OUR wishes and arguments were denied,” . “The community is demanding why and if these magistrates and judges have law-abiding citizens’ best interests in mind?”
This is a disgrace. DAO working with us helping to get high bail and OUR wishes and arguments were denied. The community is demanding why and if these magistrates and judges have law abiding citizen’s best interests in mind? https://t.co/K9jCwmvkae
— Scott Drissel (@PPDScottDrissel) December 13, 2020
Prosecutors requested that bail be set at $1 million, but the request and an appeal were denied.
Police officials say that instead, the amount set was 10% of $67,500. This comes as shootings and homicide rates are at historic levels.
Inspector Derrick Woods wrote in a Tweet:
“This must be addressed. Philly has 464 homicides and more than 2,000 shootings but the bail decisions do not reflect our reality. These are repeat violent offenders who continually break the law without meaningful consequences.”
Philadelphia has some of the highest violent crime rates in the country, and the second-highest (Chicago is the highest) murder rate among the ten largest cities this year.
As of November. 30, 454 people had been murdered in Philadelphia. That is up 39% from this time last year, with another full month to go.
The number of homicides so far this year is higher than any year since 1990, which had 500 homicides.
For the fourth year in a row, Philadelphia has seen more homicides than New York City, where the population is more than five times bigger.
John Apeldorn of the Citizens Crime Commission said, “I think it’s like the perfect storm right now.”
Apeldorn adds that in addition to the heroin and opioid epidemic and warring gangs involved in the drug trade, criminals have been emboldened by the sidelining of police:
“You have police officers because of the defunding and things like that, morale is low, they’re lining up to retire. The criminal element knows this, they’re out there committing their crime and crime is going up.
The incoming Biden administration and his pick for Attorney General is of great interest to the law enforcement community.
Report: Four Philadelphia city council members push for police budget cuts – despite city violence and looting
November 4, 2020
PHILADELPHIA, PA – On Friday, October 30th, four first-term City Council members vowed during an online call with political activists, to continue pushing for budget cuts to the Philadelphia Police Department.
The council members, Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Jamie Gauthier, and Kendra Brooks pledged their support during a week that saw more than 200 stores looted in reaction to the recent officer-involved fatal shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.
According to reports, the same group of council members pushed for significant cuts in June, but were unsuccessful. The initial article, which was reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that Gauthier said:
“Every councilmember on this call was on board for a higher level of cut to the police than we had. We couldn’t get enough to get the votes that we needed. I think we have to figure out where we’re cutting from and also what we’re investing in. I think we have to be very clear about that.”
In June, shortly after George Floyd’s death in Minnesota, the Philadelphia City Council nixed a $19 million budget increase for the police, and moved $14 million in existing funds away from the police budget. Police union leader John McNesby urged city leaders to show greater support for the city’s police department.
Proposing budget cuts to the police department was not the only method councilmembers used in an effort to limit the police department’s ability to maintain order. On October 29th, the City Council, in a 14-3 vote, approved a ban on police use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray against demonstrators.
The proposal’s sponsor, councilwoman Helen Gym, said that residents had complained of having tear gas and rubber bullets used against them without warning during protests in May and June. Gym claimed that the alleged actions by police during those protests “undid years of collaboration and work” between police and local communities in building trust.
Republican Councilmembers David Oh and Brian J. O’Neill, along with Democrat Bobby Henon voted against the proposal. The virtual council meeting grew tense when Oh suggested that tear gas is appropriate for protesters who block traffic or refuse to disperse, even if it gets inside the homes of residents who are not involved.
“Better their homes have tear gas than be set on fire.”
This legislation has been sent to Mayor Jim Kenney, whose administration supports the intent of the bill. If Kenney signs the bill, the police department would have to write a policy defining what would be classified as protected actions.
Reportedly, the legislation is not an “all-inclusive” on the use of less-than-lethal devices, but would bar the use on “any individuals engaging in First Amendment activities.”
In a recent officer-involved fatal shooting, two officers shot Wallace after he charged at them while brandishing a knife. Authorities said that neither officer had a taser as they have been working to get more funding so that all officers can be properly suited with the tools to do their job.
“We’re calling on the city leadership to release the facts of this case. It’s not hard. It’s cut-and-dry. Release what you have. Support your officers, back your officers and let’s get a handle on this thing.”
Reportedly, city leaders said that police body camera footage and 911 recordings linked to the Wallace shooting would be made public on Wednesday, November 4th per an arrangement approved by them and by the members of the Wallace family.
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Author: Chris Walsh