Ariel Benjamin Mannes recently contributed to the City Journal, writing on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Philadelphia-based crime. Below is an excerpt from the article. For the full article, click here.
“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.”