Arrests by Philadelphia police dropped by 16 percent during the first half of 2015, the biggest plunge in six years, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. During the same period, reported crime increased five percent. Police made 34,786 arrests during the first six months of 2014; this year, there were 29,125. The first half of this year marked the first time that arrests have dropped significantly while crime has increased since Commissioner Charles Ramsey took office in 2008. Violent crime, including murder, has fallen steadily in recent years.
Police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said the drop in arrests in the first half of this year was due in part to the city’s new approach to possession of marijuana. Possession of small amounts is now handled with citations rather than arrests. In the first half of this year, there were 1,216 fewer arrests for marijuana possession. That accounts for only about a fifth of the overall drop in arrests. Stanford said another reason for the drop in arrests was a recent policy change regarding children caught for minor offenses in schools. He said some students who might have been arrested in the past are now put in court programs that do not involve a formal arrest. There was only a small drop in juvenile cases, a decline of 418 arrests in the first half of the year. Some of the biggest drops in arrests in other categories included 27 percent on weapons offenses and disorderly conduct, and 16 percent on robbery charges.