Philly Mayoral Candidate Rebecca Rhynhart Reveals Public Safety Plan
Updated: Feb 7
“What we’ve seen on our streets in recent years is a real increase in the feeling of lawlessness and we need to give police the tools to do their job while at the same time making serious changes to policing - and we can do both at the same time.”
By Lauren Mayk | Published February 6, 2023
Amid the continued violence in the city, Philadelphia mayoral candidate Rebecca Rhynhart revealed her public safety plan during an exclusive interview with NBC10’s Lauren Mayk. Watch the entire interview.
What to Know
In an exclusive interview with NBC10’s Lauren Mayk, Philadelphia mayoral candidate Rebecca Rhynhart revealed her proposed public safety plan amid the continued violence in the city.
Rhynhart's plan calls for a citywide emergency, incorporates recommendations from a police department audit she conducted as city controller, and advocates for a “course correction” that could lead to more arrests for disorderly conduct.
The plan also includes some initiatives that overlap with other candidates’ proposals, such as declaring an emergency to tackle the city’s gun violence, but it also includes moves that are so far unique to Rhynhart.
Philadelphia mayoral candidate Rebecca Rhynhart is proposing a public safety plan that calls for a citywide emergency, incorporates recommendations from a police department audit she conducted as city controller, and advocates for a “course correction” that could lead to more arrests for disorderly conduct.
Rhynhart, a Democrat, has not yet publicly released her 6-point public safety plan, but shared it first with NBC10. The plan includes some initiatives that overlap with other candidates’ proposals, such as declaring an emergency to tackle the city’s gun violence, but it also includes moves that are so far unique to Rhynhart.
“I think that there needs to be more room for an arrest for disorderly conduct,” Rhynhart said in an interview with NBC10’s Lauren Mayk. “What we’ve seen on our streets in recent years is a real increase in the feeling of lawlessness and we need to give police the tools to do their job while at the same time making serious changes to policing - and we can do both at the same time.”
The city moved toward handling disorderly conduct incidents with citations in 2016 with both legislation and an executive order on the issue. Rhynhart said she would want to “reframe” the executive order to allow police to arrest for disorderly conduct in more instances. Asked for an example of when that might be used, Rhynhart mentioned a large group of people rampaging through a store or hundreds of people gathering in a street where there’s “a feeling of there could be violence.”
“I think that governance and leadership is about making course corrections, is about making changes when they’re needed,” Rhynhart said. “And we need a way forward that isn’t where we are now with this level of lawlessness and violence and it’s definitely not going backwards to stop and frisk and other past racist and unconstitutional policies. It’s about moving forward.”
Rhynhart said that the change regarding disorderly conduct cases would come with “robust” diversionary programs, an independent review of each arrest for disorderly conduct and police training. It’s unclear at this point who would handle the review, but Rhynhart said it could be the administration or a police advisory board.
The executive order that Mayor Jim Kenney signed in 2016 does state that “nothing in this Order should be understood or construed to limit or restrict a law enforcement officer’s ability to make any warrantless arrest authorized under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure for any misdemeanor level Disorderly Conduct, Failure to Disperse, Public Drunkenness or Obstructing a Highway or other Public Passage offense committed in the officer’s presence.”
In addition to the effort to “address lawlessness on our streets” and a citywide emergency, Rhynhart’s plan lists a measure to “implement and fully funding proven intervention strategies,” getting illegal guns off the streets, implementing recommendations from her controller’s audit of the police department and long-term investments in neighborhoods and residents.
Rhynhart says her emergency order would activate the emergency operations center and stay in place “until the gun violence levels go down and are stabilized significantly.”
“Each department will be laser focused on stopping the gun violence so of course the police department but also the streets department focused on fixing the street lighting in the areas that the most violence is occurring,” Rhynhart said.
Recommendations picked up from the audit include a “comprehensive” evaluation and reorganization of the Philadelphia Police Department’s “Operation Pinpoint” strategy that identifies hotspots around the city. Rhynhart’s plan says that review would happen in the first 90 days of her administration. Rhynhart also plans to conduct an analysis of 911 responsiveness and go through a process that would eventually have the department shift some responsibilities to civilian employees to free up more officers for patrol.
Asked whether she could make the changes she wants to within the Philadelphia Police Department with the
current leadership in place, Rhynhart said, “right now that’s something that I’m not really going to lean into.”
“The leadership of the police department, that is something I’ll get to,” she said. “I’m not going to make specific personnel decisions right now, but I think whoever the police commissioner will be needs to share my vision for that change.”
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.