US Attorney in Philadelphia retires, citing "disastrous course" of violent crime in city

For three years, William McSwain served as the U.S. Attorney representing nine counties in eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia. On Friday, he retired. But before he packed up his office, he had some parting remarks including a warning to others in law enforcement in the City of Brotherly Love. Things are falling apart in terms of law and order and the situation is not improving. McSwain talked about the “disastrous” course the city is on, with violent crime on the rise. He also took a couple of subtle shots at some of the others who are charged with maintaining law and order in that region. (CBS Philadelphia)

One of the most high-profile law enforcement officials in the Philadelphia area is stepping down on Friday. U.S. Attorney William McSwain announced his resignation last week and is speaking exclusively to Eyewitness News…

McSwain leaves at a time when, he says, Philadelphia is on a disastrous course with violent crime.

He acknowledged cooperation with the Philadelphia Police Department. However, he’s most critical of another prosecutor across town — District Attorney Larry Krasner.

“I think what makes me proudest is that the office really stood in the last three years for being a counterweight to some of the, I’ll describe, as lawlessness and the culture of lawlessness that was, I think, developing in Philadelphia,” McSwain said.

We should point out that this wasn’t some abrupt, “take this job and shove it” retirement decision. Plenty of U.S. Attorneys are stepping down as often happens when a new administration from a different party takes power. Viewed in that light, McSwain’s retirement was fairly normal and Joe Biden probably would have fired him if he hadn’t stepped aside anyway. (Biden has shown no hesitation in firing Trump appointees from the moment he was sworn in.) But his thinly-veiled reference to Larry Krasner made his exit interview a bit outside the norm.

We’ve discussed District Attorney Larry Krasner here in the past. The fact that McSwain saw him as part of the problem rather than the solution is in line with an observation I made early in his tenure. He was part of the crew that came in with Mayor Jim Kenney and his disaster of a Police Commissioner, Danielle Outlaw. Rather than focusing on driving the violent crime rate back down, Krasner preferred to make headlines by threatening to arrest any federal agents that Donald Trump sent into the city to protect federal buildings.

McSwain’s description of a “culture of lawlessness” in Philadelphia’s halls of government is in keeping with his own record as a tough-on-crime, law and order sort of attorney. He cites his ability to prevent the city from setting up “safe heroin injection sites” as one of his greatest accomplishments. When such experiments were attempted in the past, they became magnets for crime and violence.

Philadelphia is among the list of American cities we discussed earlier today that have seen the worst spikes in their murder rates in many decades. Gang violence continues to swell and the absence of interest in locking up criminals under the Kenney administration is obviously one of the root causes. Not all criminals are stupid and many of them can tell which way the wind is blowing. When the cops aren’t getting out of their squad cars to investigate suspicious situations out of fear that they will be fired or imprisoned if they’re forced into a potentially deadly encounter with a suspect, the candy store is basically open.

I get the feeling that Philadelphia is going to miss William McSwain when he’s gone. His replacement will almost certainly be someone from the more “progressive” school of thought, interested in defunding the police, eliminating cash bail, emptying the jails and generally being soft on crime. We’ve already witnessed the results of such policies in Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, and other metropolitan areas. The forecast doesn’t look good for the law-abiding in Philadelphia and with McSwain’s departure, things look even darker.