PA Gov. Wolf Orders Police to Monitor Hate Groups, Collect Gun Violence Data

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Philadelphia police. Photo by chrisinphilly via flickr

Two days after a standoff with a shooter that left six Philadelphia police injured, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order intended to reduce gun violence in the state, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The  order signed Friday morning requires state agencies to collect more data about gun violence, instructs state police to boost their monitoring of hate groups and white supremacists, and increases efforts to help local police departments respond to threats of mass shootings.

As authorities conducted a post-mortem of the shooting, District Attorney Larry Krasner credited “brilliant policing and maybe a little bit of a miracle” for the fact that no one died in the shootout and barricade situation.

It is among the most dangerous, and most common, things police officers do: knocking on a door with a warrant, with no idea what might be waiting for them. On Wednesday in Philadelphia, it was a man with a long criminal record and an AR-15 semiautomatic assault-style rifle. Bullets began to spray.

Six officers were wounded, remarkably none fatally, reports the Washington Post. After a seven-hour standoff, suspect Maurice Hill, 36, gave up amid a cloud of tear gas. Hill will face charges that could send him to prison for life.

In 2019’s first half, 60 law enforcement officers were killed, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Twenty seven died of gunshots, including many doing common work like serving felony arrest warrants, conducting welfare checks or responding to domestic disturbances.

Experts emphasized how quickly policing tasks can turn deadly. “I would never call anything police do routine,” said Bill Humphrey, a former Dallas deputy police chief who was overseeing SWAT operations in 2016 when a gunman fatally shot five officers. “It seems routine to the public eye, maybe, but nothing ever should be routine. Because you can do 50 traffic stops and the 51st turns deadly.”

Citing Hill’s extensive criminal record, Krasner said, “It’s clear this man should not have been on the streets, in the sense that he obviously was a tremendous danger.” Krasner said the criminal justice system “did things that obviously did not stop this incident … What a lot of us do in law enforcement is risk management, and … there will be, like it or not, occasions when there are bad results.”

Hill’s long rap sheet makes it a felony for him to possess a firearm, but criminals find ways to acquire weapons without background checks, the Post reports.

Additional Reading: Amid Controversies, Fewer Apply For Policing Jobs

Why Liberal Policing Shouldn’t Be a Contradiction in Terms, The Crime Report, Feb. 6 , 2019

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