UPenn police reform downplays 'value' of crime reduction in violent neighborhood

A committee at the University of Pennsylvania recommended an overhaul of the campus police system, including a reduction in the number of officers.

The recommendations came as Philadelphia’s rising murder rate made it the most dangerous large city in the nation.

As Philadelphia becomes one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, a University of Pennsylvania committee is considering “outcomes” other than crime reduction for the school’s ongoing police reform.

The committee’s April report was published as the number of homicides in Philadelphia rose year-over-year by 35%. According to CBS Philly, “Philadelphia now has the highest murder rate in the country per capita of the country’s 10 largest cities.” 

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Though noting that Penn Police are effective at preventing “certain types of crime,” the committee decided that reducing crime is the “only outcome” that should be used when evaluating the campus police department.

”It has also suggested that armed police are not the only approach by which physical safety can be protected. And while crime reduction is valuable, it is not the only outcome to consider in evaluating our system of public safety,” the report states.

Acknowledging that 96 percent of the department’s budget is spent on officers, the report explains that cutting “the number of armed police” will permit Penn to re-invest funds into “other initiatives that would promote safety, well-being, and belonging for all groups throughout the campus and in West Philadelphia.” 

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The West Philadelphia neighborhood — which is immediately adjacent to Penn’s campus in University City and home to thousands of students with off-campus residences — is one of the areas witnessing a particularly high spike in violence.

Additionally, the report also recommends that Penn’s Department of Public Safety “reduce the presence” of police officers in West Philadelphia neighborhoods, as well as “reduce the number and deployment of armed police officers within the Penn Patrol Zone.”

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Pennsylvania for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft