Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Commissioner Charles Ramsey, elected and city officials, and community and business leaders addressed concerns last week about ‘flash mob’ incidents in the City.
The Mayor announced a graduated response including continued enforcement of the citywide curfew currently in place for youth ages seventeen and under, 10:30 PM to 6:00 AM on weekdays and 12:00 AM to 6:00 AM on weekends. The Mayor reserved the authority under the Crime Emergency to declare an immediate, expanded curfew if necessary, and, if enacted, will transmit proposed legislation to City Council to make the curfew permanent.
“When anyone commits an act of violence in Philadelphia, our justice system responds swiftly and thoroughly,” said Mayor Nutter. “If these gatherings continue to devolve into violence, they will affect our local businesses, our residents, and our city’s reputation, and we will not tolerate this behavior.”
The Philadelphia Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Ramsey, will deploy additional police officers where necessary and will employ rapid response teams such as highway patrol, strike force, district officers and other forces to quickly react to future disturbances. Undercover officers will be positioned at undisclosed locations throughout the city to monitor for illegal activities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation will also be working in coordination with the local law enforcement community when needed.
“We are prepared to respond aggressively and arrest those young people who want to disrupt the quality of life for everyone,” said Police Commissioner Ramsey. “We urge parents to take control of the situation at home with their children, and for young people themselves to make responsible decisions. Once the police have to step into the situation, it’s already too late.”
The Courts also take these incidents very seriously. As a result of the ‘flash mobs’ on February 16th and March 3rd, Judge Kevin M. Dougherty adjudged delinquent twenty-eight teens charged with felony rioting. District Attorney Seth Williams pledged to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law including applying The Juvenile Act, section 6310, which provides the Court with the power to order a parent, guardian or custodian to “participate in the treatment, supervision or rehabilitation of a child, including, but not limited to, community service, restitution, counseling, treatment, and education programs.”
“We have to ensure that the public is safe, and I will be doing everything in my power to make sure that happens. It is not my intention to give every kid a felony charge, but if they deserve it, they will get it,” said District Attorney Williams. “My hope is that these kids will avail themselves to rec centers, but if they don’t, we have a rec center for them at the Youth Study Center. I wish that they would avail themselves to public libraries, but if they don’t, we have plenty of fine libraries in youth development centers—also known as ‘kid prisons’.”
Mayor Nutter also stressed the importance of parents in monitoring their children and collaborating with the Philadelphia Police Department.
“Parents should always know where their children are and who they are with,” said Mayor Nutter. “So far, parents have been instrumental in the police’s ability to quickly respond to incidents, and we will continue to rely on their help. Ultimately, the responsibility for a young person’s behavior falls on his or her parents.”