We endorse a "Yes" vote for Proposed Charter Change Question #4 in the upcoming May 21st election, establishing the title of "Public Safety Enforcement Officer" to assist the Police Department in regulating the flow of traffic.
This is a measure that we have supported, with qualifications, since it was proposed late in 2018.
Why we support this proposed charter change:
- The city has seen traffic fatalities increase from 76 in 2016 to 99 in 2017, along with another increase to 103 in 2018.
- Philadelphia's congestion is worse than it's ever been.
- Vision Zero embraces enforcement as one of many tools to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries.
- Peer cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York all have similar enforcement agencies.
- Cities that comprehensively enforce traffic laws see significantly fewer traffic crashes and fatalities.
- The Philadelphia Police Department has been issuing fewer moving vehicle citations from 2012 to 2017.
Our reservations about this charter change are:
- The measure leaves out key details, especially in regards to the duties and training of these new officers.
- This new enforcement agency needs to be structured and monitored in a way to avoid disproportionately impacting low-income communities, people of color, and also those most physically vulnerable on the street: pedestrians and cyclists.
- We see more value in good engineering infrastructure changes to improve road safety.
- In terms of enforcement, we would like more automated measures such as speed cameras, red-light cameras, and bus lane cameras, which is proven to be an effective, cost-efficient, and uniform tool.
5th Square believes that the potential benefits of this proposed charter change outweigh our reservations enough to issue a "Yes" endorsement. If the measure passes, we will closely monitor its development and look forward to working with the City to ensure the program stays on the right path.