In Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks by Kendra Brooks

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PHILADELPHIA – Today, Councilmembers Kendra Brooks (At-Large) and Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) released the following statement on the landlord-tenant officer: 

“We are heartbroken and angry that a private contractor hired by the landlord-tenant officer shot another tenant during an eviction yesterday. We are relieved that the tenant is in stable condition and wish her a full and speedy recovery. 

This afternoon, we asked the Municipal Court to pause landlord-tenant officer operations until we can ensure the basic safety of residents, and we are glad that they agreed to this course of action. During this pause, we told the Court that we expect the landlord-tenant office to establish: 

  • a policy for notifying tenants of the date and time of evictions (similar to established policies in New York City, Pittsburgh, and cities across the country), in order to eliminate unexpected lockouts and reduce the likelihood of escalation and violence; 
  • guidelines and training for conducting evictions, including protocols for discharging firearms, appropriate use of force, and de-escalation tactics; 
  • public accountability, including a public process to release the names of deputies involved in shootings and investigate conduct when an incident occurs. 

For the safety of residents, these reforms must be achieved before landlord-tenant office operations resume and must be followed by substantial changes to the policies, practices, and leadership of the landlord-tenant office.  

“Based on our investigation into the landlord-tenant office last month, we are also calling for a written contract between the Court and the landlord-tenant officer, a plan for providing tenants with city services at the time of a lockout, and reforms to the profit-driven nature of evictions, which incentivizes contractors to evict as many people as possible as quickly as possible.  

“After three shootings in four months, it has never been clearer that the way Philadelphia carries out evictions is unjustly violent and in need of immediate reform. We cannot think of any other aspect of our justice system that operates as recklessly, opaquely, and dangerously as the landlord-tenant officer and her private security contractors. We owe it to our residents to bring transparency, accountability, and oversight to this government service. Our neighbors facing eviction should not have to worry about being shot by an untrained private security contractor while they are enduring one of the most traumatic moments of their life. 

“Although Council does not directly oversee the Municipal Court, we are ready to act to the fullest extent of our powers to ensure that residents in our city are safe. We look forward to continued partnership with the Municipal Court and other stakeholders, as well as meaningful, long-term reforms that will remedy this unjust system.” 

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