Council president Darrell Clarke sitting at desk in council session


In Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, News by PHL Council

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PHILADELPHIA — A long-sought initiative of City Council – hiring of Public Safety Enforcement Officers to free up Police Officers to be more on the streets, fighting serious crime – moved closer to reality today as the Kenney administration announced an arbitration award between the Fraternal Order of Police and the City.

The arbitration award allows the City to expand its use of civilians in some roles within the Police Department. This landmark change will support public safety by allowing for redeployment of uniformed resources to areas of need. This is a critical step in the Kenney Administration’s and City Council’s focus on reducing violence. The hiring of Public Safety Enforcement Officers permitted under the award fulfills a key policy goal of City Council dating to 2019, when voters approved of the hiring of these officers in a ballot question.

“This Award is good news for Philadelphia, and for public safety for Philadelphians,” said City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District). “It’s essential that we get more police officers out on the streets, fighting serious crime, and this arbitration Award helps us do that. The hiring of Public Safety Enforcement Officers will free up Police Officers from duties like traffic enforcement or ticketing abandoned cars, and enable them to focus more on preventing and detecting more serious criminal activity. This is a win for public safety, and we’re proud of the public role that City Council has played on this critical issue.”

City Council has appropriated $1.25 Million in the current budget to fill 28 positions for Public Safety Enforcement Officers. While the award provides no exact timetable for hiring, Council President Clarke expressed optimism the city would begin to hire for these jobs by early in 2023.

Among other initiatives allowed under the award are the following:

  • Public Safety Enforcement Officers. The City may deploy non-bargaining unit Public Safety Enforcement Officers to perform traffic enforcement work to assist in regulating the safe movement of vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic during peak traffic times and at accident scenes in areas in the Center City District, as well as five High Injury Network Streets designated by the City.
  • Abandoned Vehicle Removal. In order to assist the Police Department in clearing the existing backlog of abandoned vehicles awaiting processing for removal, through March 31, 2024 the City may assign non-bargaining unit personnel to supplement police officers assigned to the Police Department’s Abandoned Vehicle Unit.
  • Police Department Positions. The City now has the right to staff some positions, listed below, with City employees from inside or outside the FOP bargaining unit.
  • Body worn camera technicians
  • Mail delivery duties may be assigned to employees outside the FOP bargaining unit; this may result in the reassignment of officers who currently perform these duties to additional street patrols within their districts.
  • Sworn officers in the graphics and audio-visual units.
  • Crime scene unit investigator.
  • Firearms examiner.
  • Document and digital evidence examiners.

There are other aspects of civilianization of the Police Department’s operations allowed under the award. The Award is available in full online.

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