The stay-at-home order in New Jersey has been lifted, and the state has relaxed some of its restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings. In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney announced some broad goals for police reforms, but some want him to go farther. One city where the police department was actually disbanded was in Camden. But there are some questions about whether Camden’s move could be used as a model for other cities.
Mayor Kenney said yesterday that he would eliminate a proposed $19 million increase to Philadelphia’s Police Department budget for the next fiscal year. That increase had drawn criticism from both activists and Council members as other city departments faced cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kenney’s proposals came after Council members Monday asked for 15 police reforms. The mayor released a broad set of goals for how and when officers use their guns, how they are disciplined, and how much civilian oversight there is.
Some, though, want the city to go further and completely dismantle the police department in Philadelphia for a new public safety system. Is that realistic?
Camden was once known as the nation’s poorest and most dangerous city. Police brutality sparked riots in the ’60s and ’70s. But, in recent years, the small city has drawn national attention for its policing because, in 2013, Camden dismantled its city police in favor of a county-run force. New officers were hired and trained. And violent crime has dropped.
Now, as cities consider police reforms — including Philadelphia and Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed by a police officer and the city council pledged to disband the police department — experts and others have pointed to Camden. Some residents, though, caution against using their city’s unique story as a model.
"With more and more of our businesses reopening, we are no longer asking you to stay at home,” Gov. Phil Murphy said, “but we are asking you to continue to be responsible and safe.” New Jersey also is relaxing restrictions on both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
If the loosening coronavirus-related restrictions are making you anxious, here are some tips to help, according to experts. Philly just entered Pennsylvania’s “yellow” stage of coronavirus restrictions. So, how far are we away from the “green” phase?
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“The moment to take a knee — especially for people in positions of power — would have been when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was blackballed for trying to bring attention to police brutality and racial injustice in 2016. Or, you know, any time before and since because he was hardly the first to protest this country’s inequities. Don’t take a knee. Do your jobs, which to recap, is to protect the communities you are sworn to serve.” — writes columnist Helen Ubiñas about why now is the time for people with power to take a stand, not a knee, against police brutality.
Roughly 13,000 Philadelphia high school grads had a virtual ceremony yesterday that was unlike the one that any could have predicted when they started their school years late last summer. From their own homes, the newly minted grads watched speeches, student performances, and cameos from Jill Scott, Black Thought, and Malcolm Jenkins.