2016 ANNUAL REPORT

The Office of the Sheriff is the enforcement agency of the Philadelphia Court system. The Sheriff transports and guards prisoners, enforces warrants, and secures seven Court buildings and everyone who uses those facilities. The Sheriff also conducts judicial sales of property as ordered by the Courts. In this capacity, the Sheriff is the largest collector of delinquent city taxes and fees. Court orders concerning the confiscation of weapons, protection from domestic abuse and orders concerning property and human rights are executed by the Sheriff‘s Deputies. Finally as fully certified law enforcement officers, Deputy Sheriffs take on special assignments on behalf of the City and County of Philadelphia.

PROTECTING THE COURTS AND THE PUBLIC

  • 93,750 prisoners transported and protected.
  • Warrant Unit Deputies now certified by the State.
  • 4,412 Warrants served and arrests made.
  • Plan to Secure City Hall
  • Sheriff’s Bicycle Patrols Expanded to 14 Units

The Sheriff is responsible for transporting and guarding prisoners outside of their assigned jail or prison. In 2016, none of 93,750 prisoners in the Sheriff’s custody escaped. The Philadelphia’ Sheriff’s Office remains one of America’s best operated security and prisoner transport systems.

In 2016, the Sheriff’s Office finished absorbing and training the forty (40) person Warrant Unit. At the request of the City and Court System, the Sheriff took over the unit in 2015, and a year later 4,412 arrests were made by Deputies and Warrant Officers enforcing warrants. Arrests for non-payment of child support reached 908 and 640 arrests for protection of abuse cases were made.

Under the Sheriff, warrant officers are now being certified by the State at Penn State University. The Sheriff intends for the Warrant Officers to be a potential pool of experienced applicants as Deputy Sheriff positions open up.

With the support of the Administration and the Courts, the Sheriff initiated stronger security measures in City Hall. Currently the thirty four (34) City Hall courtrooms, Council facilities and other city-county offices are protected by a small private guard service. City Hall and the people who use it require better protection.

Fully securing City Hall will require thirty five (35) additional Deputy Sheriffs. These positions were added to the current operating budget with a plan to pay for them without using tax money. The Sheriff proposed, and the Mayor and Council agreed to raise fees for Sheriff’s services. These fees have not been adjusted in over twenty years. A discussion of the status of this effort is continued below.

During his first year in Office in 2012, the Sheriff created a three (3) unit bicycle squad to patrol parameters of the courts and swiftly move Deputies between trouble spots. Because of the success of these units, the number of bicycles has increased to fourteen (14) bikes.

Also 2013 the Sheriff created a three (3) dog K9 unit to provide protection and additional specialized detection services. The K9 units are also successful and their operations have been extended to special events in the City.

The Sheriff’s Office was fully involved with the security surrounding Pope Francis’ visit to the City and the Democratic Convention. In addition to protecting City court facilities, Sheriff’s Deputies provided crowd control and arrestee transport.

Deputies were ordered to provide peace keeping patrols during two labor disputes during the past year. Because participants in such disputes are responsible for the cost of the Sheriff’s service, this activity generated $454,000 in additional revenue to the City.

In 2016 the Philadelphia Bar Association awarded the Sheriff’s Office the Hank Czajkowski Award for its professionalism and outstanding contribution to the administration of justice.

SERVING THE TAXPAYER

  • $64 million in delinquent taxes and fees collected for the City.
  • 27800 properties put in Sheriff Sales
  • 7026 properties sold
  • Five Sales now held each month
  • Time to obtain a deed after a Sale reduced from 120 to as little as 15 days.
  • 35 seminars and 177 community meetings
  • 2,500 Free gun locks distributed
  • $1.2 million in new deed preparation revenue generated for the City

The Sheriff conducts five monthly auctions of properties for non-payment of taxes or mortgages. Initiated by the City or the lender, Sheriff Sales are conducted by Court Order so that the bidder, the lender and the debtor, are fairly treated.

In 2016 the Sheriff sold 7,026 properties, returning $64 million in delinquent taxes and fees to the City and its agencies. This is an increase of $37 million since the Sheriff assumed office, when in 2012 only $27 million was collected and transferred to the City.

Sheriff Sales do more than collect delinquent taxes and fees for the City, since they convert unproductive properties into tax producing homes and businesses. The time required to sell a property and prepare a new deed is important to the buyer. In 2013 it took up to one hundred and twenty (120) days or more before a sold property was deeded over to its new owner.

In 2016 the average time a purchaser waited for a deed after final payment was fifteen (15) days.

To reduce the backlog of properties scheduled for delinquent and tax sale, the Sheriff has added an additional monthly tax delinquency sale, bringing the total to five a month.

To relieve burdening the taxpayer with the cost of preparing Sales, the Sheriff’s staff now prepares deeds of properties sold at Sheriffs Sales. Instead of paying a private title company to prepare the deeds, over $1 million in deed preparation costs is paid to the City.

On behalf of the City, the Sheriff charges fees for various services such as writ service or weapons confiscation. Because these fees have not been adjusted in twenty years, City Council increased them in 2016. The increased revenue will go toward hiring thirty five Deputies to secure City Hall. However as noted above, the City Law Department opposed the increase and refused to defend the City against any challenge to the increase.

The Sheriff is prepared to implement the new fees and secure City Hall as soon as the dispute with the Law Department is resolved.

To make the Sheriff’s Sale procedure open to everyone, the Sheriff conducted twenty four English and eleven Spanish language seminars on how to take part in Sheriff Sales.

As part of his community outreach program, the Sheriff has participated in 177 community meetings. Each month the Sheriff hosts a radio program on WURD FM to discuss court and community issues. The estimated audience is over 6,500.

To promote gun safety and prevent accidental shootings by children, the Sheriff has distributed 2,500 free gun locks.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Management system upgraded.
  • 195,000 access Sheriff’s website.

Effectively scheduling and managing three hundred (300) deputies, fortyeight civilian employees, and 26,000 Sheriff Sale properties requires specialized computer operations. In 2013 the Sheriff installed a new computer system (the Judicial Enforcement Writ Execution Legal Ledger) that has been enhanced each year. J.E.W.E.L.L may be the most productive computer system in Philadelphia government.

In 2016, to schedule the forty (40) person warrant unit, a special module was added to the system, to monitor and schedule the warrant officers as they work throughout the city. The new module tracked over 6,600 warrants in 2016.

While computer systems are often allowed to age in place, the Sheriff has required a continuous upgrade of servers, switches and firewalls as well as improved disaster recovery protection.

In 2016 the Sheriffs website was visited by 195,000 visitors looking for information about the Sheriff’s operations. The Sheriff’s website provides detailed information and costs about each property. The most popular feature is information including maps and photographs on each listing and the status of properties as they complete the sales process up to deed recording.

DEFENDANTS ASSET RECOVERY TEAM

  • $2.2 million refunded to people owed money in 2016.
  • Over $10 million refunded since the Sheriff’s effort began.

Upon taking office, the Sheriff sought out former property owners who were owed money from the sale. Quite often a winning bid exceeded the amount of debt on a property sold as Sheriff Sale. In the past no effort was made to turn the extra proceeds over to the previous owner. The Sheriff established the Defendants Asset Recovery Team (D.A.R.T.) to find those owed money. In 2016 D.A.R.T. returned $2.2 million, bringing the total refunded since 2012 to over $10 million.

This article was written in English. To translate, please visit http://translate.google.com.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The sendoff is strong. The connection to the mission is even stronger.

For 21 days, four men from the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office will be in Puerto Rico helping with disaster relief.

Inspector Michael Bastone, Sergeant Joshua Perez, and Deputy Sheriff Officers Alessandro Carrasquillo and Enrique Marin each have ties to Puerto Rico.

“Words cannot explain the devastation,” Bastone said.

From Philadelphia, they watched helplessly as Hurricane Maria ravaged the island and have still been unable to reach some family members there.

After seeing that footage, Bastone, the office’s highest ranking Hispanic deputy, went directly to Sheriff Jewell Williams, who immediately gave the green light to send a team.

“These deputies’ input can save a life,” Williams said, “and that’s what this is about.”

With no place to stay and essential services like water and electricity scarce at best, Bastone says they have no idea what to expect.

“It’s definitely going to be a hardship for all of us,” he said. “It’s something we’ve never experienced. But we’re going out there and we’re going to do the best we can for our people.”

All four men have commercial driver’s licenses and were told they will be running essential supplies to hard hit, hard to reach locations.

“There will be days without bathing. There will be days without eating. We need to prepare with protein bars, with enough under clothes for the whole 21 days we’ll be out there deployed,” Bastone said. “And all this packing has to be in one bag, so you can only imagine how much we’re trying to get out there to survive.”

The group leaves on Sunday. Sergeant Joshua Perez is also making the trip to the city of Rio Piedras.

“It’s almost to the point where you have to question yourself whether or not you’re going into a safe environment, into a safe condition. But you have to look at the bigger picture. There are people who need our help. These are our people, these are American citizens that need us,” Perez said. “Medical supplies are very scarce. A lot of the barrios and a lot of the areas aren’t receiving the aid that they need.”

And though they’ll leave comfort behind, they hope to bring much healing and hope.

“Three weeks later we get to come home. But they still have to live there and deal with all of the devastation of the hurricane,” Perez said. “For me, it’s very heartfelt. I can’t even put into words how I feel. I just feel like it’s meant to be and I feel obligated to help my people as much as possible.”

Deputies Alessandro Carrasquillo and Enrique Marin are also making the trip.

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/10/14/4-philly-sheriffs-deputies-heading-to-puerto-rico-for-hurricane-relief-effort

There probably is no perfect scenario when a property is listed, by court
order, for a Sheriff Sale. Most often it means a family may be losing their
home for a variety of reasons, often because of illness, job loss or other
situations that may be out of their control.

One benefit to Philadelphia residents is that the majority of new buyers that
purchase property at Sheriff Sales pay real estate taxes and keep them
current according to a sample review undertaken by the Philadelphia
Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Jewell Williams sought to determine the degree that properties
subjected to Sheriff Sale by order of the First Judicial District become and
remain tax compliant. The Sheriff’s Office reviewed the tax status of all
properties sold at the mortgage foreclosure, tax delinquent, and tax lien
sales for the months of November 2016 and November 2015.
City records indicate that 344 or 73% of the 469 properties sold in
November 2016 were current on their city 2017 real estate property tax.
That is a significant boost to the city revenue stream.

Tax records indicate that only 316 of the 471 properties sold in November
2015 were compliant in paying real estate taxes for 2016 and 2017. From
that small sampling we are able to see that 660 properties returned to
being tax compliant and current after years of dereliction of obligation to the
city and the school district.

In addition to recovering private and public debts, the purpose of the Sheriff
Sale is to return tax delinquent properties to the tax rolls. Because tax
delinquent properties receive city services such as police and fire
protection and trash pickup they are a burden to the City and often a blight
to its neighborhood.

In Pennsylvania the Sheriff Sales are the last step in the process to collect
delinquent debts including taxes and utility fees. Properties are brought to
Sheriff Sale through the courts requested by lenders and taxing authorities
who are owed money. If the owner does not make arrangements to satisfy
the debt, the property is sold at a court ordered public auction handled by
the Sheriff. The purchaser is expected to pay real estate and other city and
county obligations going forward and must be tax compliant with the city for
one year prior to the purchase.

The goal of this analysis was to get a sense of how many properties sold
through a Philadelphia Sheriff sale returned to fulfilling tax obligations.

In this morning's 6-2 Supreme Court decision, the crime of reckless domestic violence and abuse is now considered a misdemeanor that justifies firearms possession restriction. What does that mean? It means closing one of the many gaping loopholes in gun control legislation and cracking down on violent domestic crime. Most importantly, it means safer homes for those most at risk: women (especially women of color), LGBTQ+ folks, and children.

The Voisine v. United States decision extended the previous ruling in United States v. Castleman that declared the “firearms possession by convicted felons” illegal. So why wasn’t this a thing before?

On the books, there’s a distinction between recklessly and knowingly committing a crime, known as mens rea—their state of mind during their actions. Stephen Voisine, the man in question in this case for repeatedly becoming violent against his girlfriend, argued in court that actions charged as reckless shouldn’t be considered under the umbrella of crimes that would prevent him from buying a gun.

Virginia Villa, Voisine’s defender, argued that recklessness doesn’t necessarily constitute a “use of force.” This puts in perspective why this pretty big issue hasn't been put in the books before. She explained that she once had a client who plead guilty to a misdemeanor because he was running away from someone attacking him, and when he ran through a door and slammed it, it caught and broke the attacker’s fingers. Um, comparing a drunken assault on someone to an escape measure? I don't think so.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wasn’t having this excuse either, and shot back remarks that almost closed the case right then. While in Villa’s example, the client didn’t mean to hurt the man running after him, he still did. In many domestic violence cases, Kagan explained, reckless conduct between the perpetrator and victim is what leads to violence—not the use of direct violent force. Tell 'em, girl! 

Basically, the Court decided it was time to validate all the domestic violence that happens while the perpetrator is under the influence and otherwise in a volatile state that causes their actions to be executed recklessly. This is a win for feminism, equality in the home, and in finally making movements on reigning in this country’s insane, libertarian approach to gun-owning.

Yeah, it's about time.

If you want to listen to more of the case, here's a video of the whole ordeal—with dogs instead of justices (no cameras are allowed to film Supreme Court case proceedings).

Original Article via Bust: http://bust.com/living/16586-another-feminist-win-from-the-supreme-court.html

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams and staff participated in the National Night Out city-wide effort on July 31 and August 1 at 8 locations by handing out Free Gun Locks and additional information on what the Office does and How To Buy Property at Sheriff Sales.

Philadelphia, July 3 - Sheriff Jewell Williams will urge youngsters to have a peaceful summer as he visits children’s programs this summer.

The Sheriff will “deputize” children who take a gun safety pledge as part of his Summer of Peace initiative, according to a news release.

The effort was kicked off at the end of the 2016-17 school year, when Williams visited several schools to spread the summer of peace message.

The Sheriff and Canine Carter — a member of the Sheriff’s K-9 unit — visited the Greenfield School in Center City and the Powel School in West Philadelphia to educate students about how to “stay cool” when they encounter conflicts and what to do if they find a gun at home or in their neighborhood, according to a news release.

“Be respectful, don’t bully and most importantly, if you see a gun, don’t touch it,” said Williams. “Immediately tell a parent, a nearby adult and if you are alone in a home call 911.”

According to Children’s Defense Fund, a child or teen dies by gun in the U.S. every three hours and eight minutes.

Having a gun in the home makes the likelihood of accidental death four times higher and more than half of youths committing suicide by gun found it at home and it usually belonged to the parent, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The office pointed to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatricians that indicated “Nearly 1,300 children die and 5,790 are treated for gunshot wounds each year. Boys, older children and minorities are more likely” to fall victim to gun violence than others. In 2015, 42 percent of gun deaths were among Black children and teens.

“Don’t be a statistic,” Williams told the children when introducing Canine Carter to students at the Samuel Powel School in Powelton Village. “Use your mouth, not your fists or weapons, to settle differences. Don’t let things escalate.”

The Sheriff will be pressing this message during the months when youngsters may find themselves on the streets in tense situations: “In the warm weather months things can easily heat up. Giving kids the message they can keep themselves safe or prevent a crime is powerful and maybe if they hear it often enough they will practice what we preach. Summer is a time for fun, visiting the beach, having picnics and barbecues. I want them to stay cool in every way and help us all to have a summer of peace.”

As part of the Summer of Peace activities, the Sheriff is reaching out to groups of children at church and summer camps to take the following gun safety pledge:

I will never play with guns; if I see a gun, I won’t touch it.

I will remember that any gun I see might be loaded.

I will never go snooping or allow my friends to go snooping for guns in the house.

If I find a gun, I will tell a grown-up I know right away.

I know how important it is to keep myself safe.

Throughout the summer, the Sheriff’s Office will carry its safety message to outdoor festivals, summer gatherings, children’s programs and block captains, the news release stated.

The Office of the Sheriff is also working with Philadelphia Integrated Town Watch and Temple University Medical School’s summer outreach program to distribute gunlocks this summer to city residents to help keep children safe.

The Sheriff and City Council President Darrell Clarke began the gunlock program in August 2016. To date, more than 3,000 free gunlocks have been given to Philadelphia families through the Sheriff’s Office and City Council offices. Philadelphia residents can pick up free gunlocks at the Sheriff’s Office any weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 100 S. Broad St. on the 5th floor. For more information call (215) 686-3572 or visit www.phillysheriff.com.


Tribune Staff Report / The Philadelphia Tribune

July 18, Philadelphia, PA -- In the last twelve months The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office collected and sent to the Philadelphia City Treasury $61.3 million in delinquent taxes and fees collected from Sheriff Sales. In fiscal year 2012, the year Sheriff Jewell Williams entered office, only $27 million had been collected.

This is the third year in a row the Sheriff remitted over $60 million to the City of Philadelphia. The money is collected through monthly mortgage foreclosure sales, tax delinquent and tax lien sales as well as fees imposed for various court related services. Properties are brought to Sheriff Sales through court orders initiated by the City Revenue and Law Departments or by banks and private lenders.
“For many years, delinquent tax collection had been a problem. Often the properties we sell are delinquent for five or more years. We expect to see the backlog of tax delinquent properties decline,” Williams stated.

Under Williams, the Office redesigned the delinquent collection process and installed a data management system. At the request of the City, two additional monthly sales were added to the schedule during the last fiscal year.

The primary mission of the Office of the Sheriff is to protect those working in our Courts and others such as witnesses, jurors and to transport and guard prisoners going to and from Court and to carry out court orders.

The Sheriff now provides the City Treasury almost three times what it costs to operate the office. For fiscal year 2018, which started in July, the Sheriff’s budget is $23 million.