From the #StarbucksWhileBlack series – Courtesy of The Philadelphia Tribune:
Two months after the arrests of a pair of African-American men in a Rittenhouse-area Starbucks for waiting on a friend brought unwanted attention to the area, the Philadelphia Police Department on Friday announced a new policy outlining a proper protocol for arresting people on private property.
The new policy places an emphasis on de-escalating interactions between a business owner and an alleged offender. It also encourages officers to utilize greater discretion when engaging an alleged offender, and it requires them to request a supervisor to respond to the location.
It also requires that the accused trespasser must “know and understand that he/she is not allowed” on the property and defy an order to leave in the presence of police, according to the guideline. The owner must also sign a document confirming the intention to prosecute.
“The new policy provides an officer with guidance on how to respond to calls about trespassing on private business properties that are open to the public,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said. “This allows police to take actions, with the help of their supervisor, that are most appropriate in each individual case.”
On April 12, Dante Robinson and Rashon Nelson were arrested after they asked to use the restroom at the Starbucks located at 18th and Spruce streets without having made a purchase. The arrests were caught on video and went viral.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the arrests “reprehensible,” Robinson and Nelson had their records expunged, and the company and the city both reached settlements with the two.
“I’m pleased that the Philadelphia Police Department thoroughly reviewed its internal policies and created clearer guidelines for police officers responding to calls related to trespassing on private business property that is open to the public,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
“The new policy will allow police officers to use greater discretion in taking actions that are most appropriate for each individual case. This can lead to fewer arrests, and most importantly, will ensure that our officers are not placed in untenable situations at the behest of retailers.”