WASHINGTON -- The top federal prosecutor in Philadelphia lashed out at his local counterpart in an extraordinary statement Thursday, blaming District Attorney Larry Krasner and the progressive criminal justice efforts he has pushed for precipitating a violent standoff between police and a shooter in the city that had ended hours earlier.
US Attorney William M. McSwain, President Donald Trump's pick to lead federal-level cases in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said Krasner used "vile rhetoric" toward police and promoted "lawlessness" through his policies that have shifted local prosecutions away from minor crimes like marijuana possession and have shown leniency in charging certain homicides."There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner -- and I am fed up with it," McSwain wrote in a statement that was released online.On Wednesday, a 36-year-old ex-convict, Maurice Hill, fired more than 100 rounds at Philadelphia police after they tried to serve a narcotics warrant at a row house he'd holed up in, authorities said. Six officers were wounded over the nearly eight-hour gun battle, which ended shortly after midnight with Hill's arrest.Krasner was elected to the post in 2017 and is among the biggest names in a movement that has seen the election of a number of progressive district attorneys in urban areas across the country.Many of their policies, which include abandoning the cash bail system and refusing to pursue certain cases referred by police, diverge from the zero tolerance stance the Trump Justice Department has taken federally.At a national policing conference in New Orleans on Monday, Attorney General William Barr launched a new line of attack on the district attorneys, whom he called "anti-law enforcement.""There is another development that is demoralizing to law enforcement and dangerous to public safety: that is the emergence in some of our large cities of district attorneys that style themselves as 'social justice' reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook and refusing to enforce the law," Barr said.
"When they do deign to charge a criminal suspect, they are frequently seeking sentences that are pathetically lenient," Barr said. "So these cities are headed back to the days of revolving-door justice. The results will be predictable: more crime, more victims."
Krasner's move to have his attorneys halt bail requests on 25 low-level charges has led to a notable decrease in the city's jail population and he's defended the step, saying it's caused no uptick in crime or significant increase in delinquency.
Detractors, however, point to how Krasner's increased use of a diversionary program that puts certain nonviolent gun offenders in rehabilitation instead of jail, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, has tracked with a local uptick in gun-related violent crime.
"We should enforce the guns laws that we have in Philadelphia," John McNesby, the president of the city's police union, told DNN. "We need a stronger district attorney. We need a stronger community support."
Thursday morning, Krasner described how he had helped negotiate Hill's surrender in a conference call that included the city's police commissioner, and he indicated he would bring charges of attempted murder.
Krasner also said he had visited with a number of the injured police officers at a hospital where they were being treated.