New Type of Officers Could Be Coming to Philly Streets

The new Public Safety Enforcement officers would help police focus on more serious crimes.

If you're annoyed at people leaving their dogs' droppings on the ground in Philadelphia, a new class of public safety officers proposed under an amendment to the city's charter could help.

The amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter would establish new Public Safety Enforcement officers, who would also be tasked with helping police during special events like parades and concerts. However, unlike police officers, the public safety officers would be unarmed and would not be allowed to arrest anyone.

The hope is for police to be able to focus on more serious crimes while public safety officers take care of things like reducing traffic congestion.

The new officers would also be on the lookout for such issues as illegal dumping, cars running red lights and rideshare drivers stalling their cars in the middle of the street, City Council spokeswoman Jane Roh said.

The resolution has already received backing from the police department. "In my opinion, the enforcement officer position will create a synergy that will help us overall. So, I support the efforts," PPD Commissioner Richard Ross told NBC10.

The exact number of new officers who would be hitting the streets has not yet been established. It would fall to the city's managing director - currently Brian Abernathy - to decide on that number. Other specifics, like where the money for the officers' pay would come from and under whose jurisdiction they would fall - would be up to the mayor's administration to establish, Roh said.

Proposed by City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, the resolution passed City Council on Thursday and now heads to Mayor Jim Kenney, who will decide whether to put it on the ballot. However, the council does expect him to approve the move, Roh said.

If the resolution does make it to the ballot, voters will get to decide whether to amend the Home Rule Charter and create the Public Safety Enforcement officer position at the next elections on May 21st.

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