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DEFUND THE SECRET POLICE: Q&A With Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner

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BLOOMBERG NEWS: So you are prepared to prosecute federal law enforcement officials if they do in Philadelphia what they are doing in Portland?

D.A. LARRY KRASNER: If we have clear probable cause for the commission of crimes, by anyone, including law enforcement, including federal law enforcement, we will prosecute that. We’re not going to tolerate any kidnappings and assaults going on in Philadelphia streets. We’re not going to tolerate showing up under the guise of making things safer and [instead] causing violence.

BLOOMBERG NEWS: Is there precedent for this — local police arresting federal police?

D.A. LARRY KRASNER: There are instances, and there have been in many major cities. Often it relates to corruption where you have arrests that are made. Sometimes they’re made by federal authorities. Sometimes they’re made by local authorities. The Philadelphia police department and the Philadelphia D.A.’s office, absolutely have jurisdiction to arrest and to charge federal law enforcement officials if they commit crimes. The only wrinkle to this is that under certain circumstances the case may eventually end up being handled in federal court. But there’s no question that the law applies to the feds, including the president, whatever he may want to say otherwise.

BLOOMBERG NEWS: Can you walk us through what that would look like?

D.A. LARRY KRASNER:It can come in a number of ways. It can come through the police, because the primary investigative agency is the police department. But it can originate within the D.A.’s office, where we then collaborate with the police or where we do it without the police using our own attorneys, D.A. detectives, etc. Sometimes there is simply an arrest and we charge them by complaints or we can convene a grand jury where in a less public fashion, civilians decide whether or not there is probable cause to arrest a person for the commission of crime. So there’s a few different ways it can be initiated.

I would like to think that this mayor and this reform commissioner mean what they say when they say we’re not going to tolerate federal law enforcement committing crimes on Philadelphia streets. I think they probably do. But I can tell you to some extent, it doesn’t matter because I’m not going to tolerate it. And the D.A.’s office is able to act either independently or in collaboration with the Philadelphia police department. MORE

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