Miles Pfeffer, the eighteen-year-old son of a wealthy family from Buckingham, Bucks County was arrested less than 24 hours after allegedly shooting and killing Temple University police officer Christopher Fitzgerald in North Philadelphia Saturday night.
While Pfeffer has been charged and held without bail for the murder of a law enforcement officer and related offenses, what the District Attorney, Police Commissioner and Mayor have yet to address was how the murderer — who has a juvenile record and photos with a gun in his waistband on his Instagram page — ended up allegedly committing an armed robbery in North Philadelphia last night. It was in the commission of this alleged robbery that Officer Fitzgerald intervened, and was shot in the head as a result.
So why, with the knowledge and proximity to commit robberies in the wealthy Buckingham and Doylestown areas, would Pfeffer travel nearly an hour to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America to commit crime? The answer may be the same as to why Kensington has become a destination for the opioid addicted from throughout the mid-Atlantic: because the soft-on-crime policies instituted by District Attorney Larry Krasner, Mayor Jim Kenney, and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw have made Philadelphia a place where offenders have little or no fear of the criminal justice system.
The city’s elected leaders took a victory lap to tout a lower murder rate in 2022, in lock-step with progressive talking points that took state murder rates out of their per capita context as the basis to justify their dangerous public policy decisions. Worse, when trying to deflect to a “Red State Murder Problem” talking point, all the likes of Krasner and Kenney did was draw attention to the fact that their own disputed murder rate was still the highest of the nation’s large cities (over 1M population), and they have no real plan to stop it.
Any of us paying attention to life in Philadelphia knows that the soft-on-crime policies forged by the DA, Mayor, Council, and their hand-picked city Police Commissioner have wreaked havoc on our communities. Policies touted as “reforms” — self-imposed restrictions on cash bail, defunding the police, declining to prosecute certain crimes, releasing thousands of inmates, cutting the prison population, and the unaccountable shift of public safety funds — have coincided with an explosion of violent crime, leaving with Philadelphia of an average of over 500 murders a year.
Even some of Philadelphia’s one-party politicians and their backers have started to recognize that rising crime rates and the lack of a general sense of safety that follows are a major political problem. This comes after 2022 midterm polls revealed that voters ranked rising crime just under inflation and the lackluster economy. So, while the likes of Kenney and Krasner engage in obfuscation, finger pointing, and blame shifting, Officer Fitzgerald is yet another young, black man murdered on the streets of Philadelphia.
However, as this case involves an African American police officer allegedly murdered by an eighteen-year old white man from a wealthy suburban family, it seems unlikely that it will warrant the national outrage George Floyd or Tyre Nichols received. Worse, as the scandal-ridden Krasner administration continues to suggest that he is not responsible for rising crime rates, reports of crimes committed by those recently set free by his office continue to emerge.
So what message does this have to those in other Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties with functional prosecutors, who may be caught up in a cycle of criminality and/or addiction? Statistically, it seems a lot more likely that you won’t get caught and imprisoned for committing crime in Philadelphia.
The Krasner/Soros effect
Until recently, crime, including violent crime, had been declining across the United States since the peak of the last crime wave in 1992. Since 2008, incarceration rates have also been falling dramatically. The 25-plus year trend of lower crime since 1992 has ended for many cities, including Philadelphia. The rise in crime, especially violent crime, started taking place around 2015, correlating with the election of rogue prosecutors funded or inspired by George Soros and other wealthy donors based mainly in California and New York.
Following the election of Krasner and his peers, a statistically unwarranted scrutiny on law enforcement resulted in the drastic reduction of proactive policing. This led to a sharp rise in crime in cities like Philadelphia before the Covid-19 pandemic, even though coronavirus was blamed for the rise in crime. The cumulative effect of these events led to increased crime, especially in cities like Philadelphia where a toxic trio of rogue prosecutors, defund the police zealotry, and demonization/demoralization of the police existed.
In those cities and others with some mixture of this toxic trio crime has exploded across most categories, including but not limited to murder. Not surprisingly, the 30 cities with the nation’s highest crime rates, 27 have Democratic mayors, and at least fourteen have Soros-backed or inspired prosecutors — including Krasner, whose PBS documentary made him a national model for his ilk. In the fourteen cities with Soros-backed prosecutors, there were 1,752 homicides, representing 68 percent of homicides in the 30 top homicide cities in the United States.
Statistically, public safety is dramatically impacted by whether your district attorney is a Soros-funded activist as opposed to someone who abides by their oath of office, as well as who the Mayor appoints as a police commissioner, and whether City Council supports and adequately funds law enforcement. By elevating pro-criminal, anti-victim zealots into office, progressive fundraisers and local politicians have jeopardized the safety of the community, treating criminals as victims and the police as the criminals, which has ignored the real victims who ironically pay their salaries with their taxes.
Will Philadelphia cease to be a destination for criminals? One would hope that we mobilize the nation’s fourth largest law enforcement agency to do so in the memory of Officer Christopher Fitzgerald, who certainly deserved more from the politicians than he received.
This story has been updated to correct a statement about the accused’s family.
A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP, CESP, is a Subject Matter Expert in Security & Criminal Justice Reform based on his own experiences on both sides of the criminal justice system. He has served as a federal and municipal law enforcement officer and was the former Director, Office of Investigations with the American Board of Internal Medicine. @PublicSafetySME