By Alex Lloyd Gross
It’s in direct correlation to the two Black Men who were arrested for doing nothing at Starbucks in center city two months ago. The Philadelphia Police dodged a legal bullet when the two men decided not to sue. That case would have cost the city a ton of cash. Figure since the city tossed $75 thousand to a woman who got slapped accidentally by a decorated police lieutenant five years ago, these men would have taken the city for close to a half million. Instead, they got the city and Starbucks to change the way they handle trespassers.
Example. You own a business. It’s open to the public. In walks Allison Costello, dressed in short shorts and a sexually explicit T-Shirt. She buys nothing but walks around. You can see she is making people uncomfortable and as you watch her, you see she is approaching men, having a short conversation with them and leaving for another man. Is she looking for a blind date, or is she looking for a “date” for money? She will not leave and tells you to mind your own business. You call the cops.
They arrive and tell her to leave. She won’t. Now, you will have to be a complaining witness and show up in court. When she is arrested for trespassing, you are required to sign papers that you will follow through in court. If you tell the police that you want her out but want no parts of court, the cop can issue her a summons right there. That could have happened to the gentlemen from Starbucks, but it did not.
Now, a supervisor will get involved, to guide the officers. The police will not simply handcuff a trespasser, they will give them an opportunity to leave on their own. Once a decision is made by an authorized store employee to arrest someone, that person cannot be un arrested. A good example would be a clerk who cannot get in touch with the store owner has someone arrested. When they finally do, the boss is furious and demands the cops let the person go. That will not happen. It must go to court and either there is no complaining witness or the owner shows and tells the DA to drop the charges.
A person arrested for trespassing will face no jail time but they could face a fine or community service. The Philadelphia Police have not changed the law, but they changed the way they enforce the law. They will still respond to trespassing complaints and still make those arrests, but in a more cautious way to protect themselves from law suits and being put in a negative light on social media.