PPD Hires Unarmed Public Security Officers —WHYY

In theory, she says, civilizing traffic enforcement minimizes contact between drivers and law enforcement while lowering the stakes of an encounter. But the plan to deploy this new class of officers to Philadelphia has moved slowly in part because of the pandemic but also because of the new questions that come with the model.

In March 2020, Mayor Jim Kenney committed $1.9 million in funding to the Philadelphia Police Department to create a class of approximately 20 public safety officers. But the officials press pause on the plan last year, blaming the pandemic. At that time, officials hoped the officers would deploy this year. This month, administration spokeswoman Joy Huertas said the city plans to post the officers’ job openings on Oct. 18. But residents shouldn’t expect to see the police take to the streets until January 2022 at the earliest.

“The goal is to launch the program early in the new year,” Huertas said.

Officers will eventually focus on directing and managing traffic, detecting illegal or unauthorized activity, and enforcing parking and traffic regulations, such as parking in a crosswalk or double parking lot, or unauthorized right-of-way closures or encroachments, according to the Kenney administration.

Traffic officers would also coordinate with the police department in the event of accidents and other disruptions. The new officers would be deployed to “high-needs” downtown intersections during weekday rush hours –– 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. –– but “would handle activities throughout the center -city that have an impact on congestion” during off-peak hours. rush hours.

All officers will receive four weeks of training on motor vehicle regulations, safety, implicit bias and issuing citations, according to the city. Officers will report to Michael Carroll, Deputy Director General of the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability.

The new officers will enter the scene shortly after a new city law prohibits police officers from stopping drivers for so-called minor traffic violations, such as a broken taillight or failure to show an inspection sticker. .

However, despite a year-long hiatus in implementation, the city had few other detailed responses about the nature of the program. The spokesperson blamed “strained capacity” at City Hall due to the pandemic for delaying planning.

But experts say those details are important, especially with the city days or weeks away from embarking on what could be one of the first such programs in the modern era — the civilian enforcement of Traffic is not a new idea, but history has shown it’s not easy to implement effectively.

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Susan W. Lloyd