Philly Coronavirus News: Philadelphia Police to Start, You Know, Arresting People Again

Arrests plummeted after a policy shift at the beginning of the Philadelphia coronavirus crisis. Expect a new trajectory.

philly police officer wears a mask during the philadelphia coronavirus crisis

A Philadelphia police officer wears a mask during the Philadelphia coronavirus crisis. Arrests by Philly police officers are expected to rise thanks to a policy shift. (Getty Images)

A roundup of Philly coronavirus news.

Philly Police to Start, You Know, Arresting People Again

There was a real “things that make you go hmm” moment for many people near the beginning of the Philly coronavirus outbreak.

That was when we learned that new Philly police commissioner Danielle Outlaw had decided it would be a good idea to limit arrests for non-violent crimes as much as possible during the pandemic.

There was some logical reasoning behind this. After all, you don’t want to just go stuffing people into crowded, already germ-filled prisons with the coronavirus lurking about. And the more contact cops have with citizens, the higher the chances that those cops could become infected.

Still, with lines down the block outside of gun shops and fears of civil unrest looming, this message got twisted into something to the effect of: “It’s OK, criminals. Go head and do your thing. Philly police won’t bother you.”

But now, the Philadelphia Police Department has announced a shift in its policy, and it’s not good news for criminals. Philly police now say that they will begin to make more arrests for crimes like commercial burglaries and retail theft, two categories that are up 25 and 35 percent year-to-date, respectively, according to the latest crime stats available from police.

“At the time of the change, the department was clear in that the list of offenses was subject to review and revision as conditions continued to evolve,” said Outlaw in a statement. “Predictably, conditions have, in fact, evolved in dynamic fashion. Accordingly, we have reviewed our current protocols and have made several adjustments.”

The announcement released by the Philadelphia Police Department points to the increase in “consistently warmer weather” as one of the evolving conditions that led Outlaw to make this decision. Criminals like to stay inside when it’s winter as much as you do.

New Jersey State Parks Reopen, Become “Overrun”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy allowed state parks to reopen over the weekend. And because we just have to show the world over and over again why we can’t have nice things, several of those parks were “overrun” by people on Saturday, according to the New Jersey State Parks Service’s Division of Parks & Forestry.

On Saturday, officials had to close the beach at Corson’s Inlet State Park in Ocean City because so many people decided to pay the sands a visit. After that, rangers shut down the parking lots at numerous “filled to capacity” state parks.

“REMEMBER, COVID-19 IS NOT GONE,” the parks service wrote in a statement (emphasis theirs). “In order to keep parks open and all visitors a safe distance from one another, visit close to home, mask up, and make your stay short.”

“Leave your chairs and coolers at home,” read another statement. “Keep your visit short — 2 hours maximum — as bathrooms are closed and others would like to visit the park too. Thank you for doing your part to keep your social distance while enjoying parks.”

In Pennsylvania, state park trails have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic. But services and facilities have been closed down. The state just announced plans to reopen the Pennsylvania state parks in phases.

Meanwhile, Valley Forge National Park, which is not under state control, remains completely shut down thanks to the huge crowds that gathered there in March.

Know Your Employee Rights

The city wants you to know your rights as an employee during the coronavirus pandemic, so officials have released this handy infographic:

Although the city stuck it way at the bottom, one of the most important things you should school yourself on is the law surrounding paid sick leave. To learn more about the sick leave law and how you can report your employer for violating it, click here.