Do Philadelphia police need helpers?

The council president wants to ask voters if the city should create a new kind of public safety officer.

Pat Loeb
September 20, 2018 - 2:41 pm

Dreamstime

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke introduced a bill on Thursday that would ask voters to establish a new category of public safety officers — more than crossing guards but not quite police officers. The police union is already opposing the idea.

Even Clarke is a little vague about what the public safety officers would do exactly, but he says it's an idea the city has kicked around for years and that's taken root elsewhere.

"It's time for us to come up to the level of other municipalities across this country. New York, Baltimore, across this country we have this category of employee," Clarke said. 

The main job Clarke sees for them is directing traffic in Center City. He says that would free up sworn police officers to tackle crime. But police union president John McNesby says police officers can do both.

"We have enough officers now where they can fill the traffic unit, fill the Center City District unit. Once you open the door, it expands to other areas. Right now, we're adamently opposed to it," McNesby said.

The bill must still go through hearings, and the council president says he wants a collaborative process of filling in the details, but his goal is to have the proposal ready for voters by the spring primary.