Police in Philadelphia have been told to put a hold on arresting some nonviolent offenders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
According to a memo released by the city Monday, arrests for crimes including bad checks, drug offenses, theft and prostitution would be put off until a later date.
Officers instead would take information from suspects to confirm their identity, which might include use of mobile fingerprint scanners. They would then be released to be arrested at a later time.
A boldfaced highlighted section of the memo reads: “If an officer believes that releasing the offender would pose a threat to public safety, the officer will notify a supervisor, who will review the totality of the circumstances and utilize discretion” to determine the best course of action.
“The directive was released to keep officers safe during this public-health crisis,” FOP Lodge 5 president John McNesby told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Meanwhile, violent offenders will be arrested and processed with the guidance of a police supervisor.”
The plan is intended to protect both jail staff and those already incarcerated from contracting the virus if new inmates who have the virus are introduced into the population.