2017 Annual Report


Jewell Williams, Sheriff

Established when Pennsylvania was a colony, the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office protects both

every citizen of Philadelphia.

The Office of the Sheriff is the enforcement arm of the Philadelphia Court system. Deputy

Sheriff’s transport and guard prisoners, enforce warrants, and secure our seven Court

buildings. The Sheriff does not work at the direction of the Mayor, City Council or civil

government, but rather at the direction of Courts of Law. As such, the Sheriff is a neutral part

of the justice system. Only by Court order can the Sheriff conduct sales of mortgage and tax

delinquent property, confiscate property such as weapons, and enforce writs such as protection

from domestic abuse orders. In this capacity, the Sheriff is Philadelphia’s largest collector of

delinquent city taxes and fees. As certified law enforcement officers, Deputy Sheriffs take on

special assignments on behalf of the Government and Courts of the City and County of




87, 030 prisoners transported and protected.

4,412 Warrants served and 5,128 arrests made.

City Hall being secured by Deputies.

Sheriff’s Bicycle Patrols Expanded to 15 Units.

96,880 sandwiches served to prisoners in Court lock up unit.


The Sheriff is responsible for transporting and guarding prisoners outside of their assigned jail

or prison. In 2017, none of the 87,030 prisoners in the Sheriff’s custody escaped. The number

of prisoners assigned to the Sheriff dropped by 6,000 from the previous year because of a

decline in crime in Philadelphia and because the State now transports its prisoners to a single

site, instead of forcing the Sheriff to go to multiple sites across the State. In 2017 Sheriff’s

Deputies traveled throughout the country to bring 165 defendants back to Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia’ Sheriff’s Office remains one of America’s best operated security and prisoner

transport systems.

At the request of the City and Court System, the Sheriff completed the assumption and

training of the forty officer warrant unit. In 2017 5,128 arrests were made by Deputies

enforcing warrants. Of 10,205 warrants issued the Sheriff sought to serve 93%. In the year

criminal 5,128 arrests were made. All 582 court orders were served. Arrests for non-payment

of child support reached 1,072 and 108 arrests for were for domestic violence.

With the Administration and the Courts, the Sheriff is establishing stronger security measures

in City Hall. The thirty four (34) City Hall courtrooms, Council facilities and other city-county

offices will be protected by Sheriff’s Deputies.

To prevent the malicious use of cell phones in criminal court rooms

Sheriff’s personnel collect and return all cell phones from visitors to the Criminal Justice

Center. Since the program started in June, no cell phones have been reported missing.

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 patrols has increased to fifteen (15) bikes.

The Sheriff created a three (3) dog K9 unit to provide protection and additional specialized

detection services. The K9 units are also assigned to special events in the City.



$61.3 million in delinquent taxes and fees collected for the City in FY 17.

$15 million in escheat funds sent to the City.

19,919 properties put into Sheriff Sales in FY 17.

5935 properties were sold in FY17.

Five Sales now held each month

Time to obtain a deed after a Sale reduced from 120 to 21 days.

36 seminars and 177 community meetings

5,200 Free gun locks distributed

$1.2 million in new deed preparation revenue generated for the City


The Sheriff conducts five monthly public 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 treated fairly.

In 2017 19,919 properties were brought to foreclosure or tax sales. This was 7,800 less than in

2016 because of tighter requirements on lenders seeking foreclosure and a decrease in the

number and value of tax delinquent properties.

In 2016 the Sheriff sold 5,935 properties, turning over $61.295 million in delinquent taxes and

fees to the City and its agencies. This is more than double the $27 million collected when the

Sheriff first took office.

Funds Collected and Paid to the City

FY2017: $61,295,487

FY2016: $61,053,683

FY2015: $64,988,767

FY2014: $43,161,103

FY2013: $28,414,467

Sheriff Sales are more than devices for collecting delinquent taxes and fees, because they

convert derelict properties into tax producing homes and businesses. A deed and possession

of a sold property must be done as quickly as possible. 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 2017 the average time a purchaser waited for a deed after final payment was twenty one

(21) days.

In addition foreclosure and tax sales return delinquent properties to the City’s tax rolls. In

2017 the Sheriff analyzed sales from 2016 and 2015 to determine if properties sold by the

Sheriff stayed current on their taxes. The study showed 73% of properties sold in the 2016

sample and 67% of properties sold in the 2015 sample were current on their 2017 real estate taxes.

Unclaimed funds are held by the Sheriff for eighteen months after which they are transferred

or escheated to the City. In FY 17, $15,025,680 of these escheated funds was sent to the City.

This was not done prior to Sheriff Williams taking office.

To relieve the taxpayer of the cost of paying private companies to prepare deeds, the Sheriff’s

staff now prepares deeds for properties sold at Sheriff Sales. This provides the City $1 million

in additional revenue.

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 allow thirty five Deputies to be hired to

secure City Hall.

To make the Sheriff Sale procedure open and understandable to everyone, the Sheriff

conducts seminars on how to take part in Sheriff Sales. In 2017 twenty four English and 12

Spanish language seminars were held attracting 2,424 participants.

As part of his community outreach program, the Sheriff has participated in 177 community

meetings and events. Each month the Sheriff hosts a radio program on WURD FM to discuss

Sheriff Sales, court and community issues.

To promote gun safety and prevent accidental shootings by children, the Sheriff has

distributed 5,200 free gun locks.



Management system upgraded.

217,000 unique visitors used the Sheriff’s website in 2017.

1 million pages of data were reviewed.


Effectively scheduling and managing deputies, civilian employees, and 20,000 Sheriff Sale

properties requires specialized computer operations. In 2013 the Sheriff installed a new data

management (the Judicial Enforcement Writ Execution Legal Ledger). While computer systems

are often allowed to become obsolete, the Sheriff requires a continuous upgrade of servers,

switches and firewalls as well as improved disaster recovery protection. In 2017 the website

calculator was upgraded so citizens could calculate the cost of Sheriff services.

In 2017 the Sheriffs website was visited by 217,000 unique visitors looking for information

about the Sheriff’s operations. This is an increase of 22,000 visits from the previous year. The

most popular feature is property information including maps and photographs of each listing

and the status of properties from the sale to recording the deed.

Defendants Asset Recovery Team


$2.3 million refunded to 127 people owed money in 2017.

Over $13.5 million refunded since the Sheriff Williams took office.


Upon taking office in 2012, the Sheriff sought out former property owners who were owed

money from a sale. Quite often a winning bid exceeds the amount of debt on a property sold

as Sheriff Sale. In the past little or no effort was made to turn the surplus proceeds over to the

previous owner. The Sheriff established the Defendants Asset Recovery Team (D.A.R.T.) to find

those owed money. In 2017 D.A.R.T. returned $2.3 million, bringing the total refunded since

2012 to over $ 13.5 million.