Commissioner: Philadelphia Police Department not turning blind eye to crime

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- During a news conference Wednesday morning, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw addressed the new protocol put in place during the coronavirus emergency calling it "uncharted territory."

"To be clear, the Philadelphia Police Department is not turning a blind eye to crime," Outlaw said. "We will continue to enforce all laws."

The new protocol's major change involves non-violent offenses.

EMBED More News Videos

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw explains the department's temporary changes due to COVID-19 during a press conference on March 18, 2020.

"Persons who commit certain nonviolent offenses will be arrested at the scene. Once their identity has been confirmed, they will be released and processed via arrest warrant," Outlaw said.

According to Outlaw, this is similar to the 'summons process' that is utilized in many other counties throughout the Commonwealth.

She explained if the officer and supervisor believe the individual poses a threat to public safety, the suspect can be taken into custody for immediate processing.

"Officers will use discretion on how a person is processed," she said.

Her message at the press conference echoed a social media post she released in the early morning hours.

"In order to balance this approach, personnel from several plain-clothes units have been reassigned to patrol duties to increase police presence and deter crime twenty-four hours a day," Outlaw said in the social media post.

The commissioner said this is a temporary response model to protect the officers and the communities from becoming infected or spreading COVID-19. They also allow the department to adjust to "changing availability of resources within other areas of the criminal justice system."

"To reiterate," Outlaw said, "criminal offenders will be held accountable for the crimes they commit."
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.