Broad + Liberty ran my interview with retired Philadelphia police sergeant Gary Capuano (seen in the above and below photos).
You can read the interview via the below link or the below text:
I had an interesting conversation with a veteran police sergeant. Gary Capuano, who retired from the Philadelphia Police Department after serving nearly 25 years, and is currently writing a memoir of his days as a cop, offered his take on the current state of crime in Philadelphia.
“Philadelphia is in a dire situation. I believe the rise in crime is a direct result of the District Attorney and his policies,” Capuano told me. “When word gets out that there is little to nothing done when someone is arrested for a crime, these criminals believe they have the green light to do as they please. Since Larry Krasner has been in office, the number of homicides has risen every year.”
Capuano went on to state that when word gets out that deals are being given out like candy by the DA office and that crimes are being ignored, what the city is experiencing right now is a result.
I asked Capuano what he thinks should be done to drive down crime in Philadelphia.
“Driving infractions need to be enforced as they were in years past, ATV’s need to be removed from the street like they were in years past, and retail thefts need to be prosecuted again as they were in years past,” Capuano said. “Many businesses that were looted in the summer of 2020 never recovered and closed for good. More businesses are leaving the city because of the thefts as well as their employees being assaulted. This progressive way of thinking protects the criminal only. There needs to be a balance.”
Capuano added that police manpower is critically low, which not only jeopardizes public safety, but also jeopardizes police officers’ safety. The public should know that a lack of manpower is why it takes hours on end for their call to be answered.”
I asked him if he thought the mayor, the DA, and the police commissioner have the cops’ backs.
“I feel that the mayor, district attorney and the police commissioner do not have the cops’ backs,” Capuano replied. “I don’t have the exact numbers, but it’s apparent that cops have been targeted by the DA and city’s leadership. The whole idea of due process has been forgotten in many cases. The number of officers arrested and found not guilty are plentiful.
“I’m not so naive that I believe cops do no wrong, but when there are thousands of people in any one career, there are bound to be a few bad apples. But don’t ruin people’s lives and careers with a shoddy investigation. I’d like to see a police commander stand in front of a camera and address accusations thrown at a cop by saying, ‘we should conduct a thorough investigation and have all of the facts before we make a rush to judgment.’”
Capuano said the police department should lose their unofficial opposition to hiring veterans for fear of them having PTSD.
“I’ve heard stories throughout the years of many willing and able bodied veterans who were passed over,” Capuano said. “The department needs to also remove the residency requirement altogether. The city should give a 50 mile radius as to where a recruit/officer can live. As long as the officer can make it to work on time, there should be no issues. The city should use a one-time signing bonus payment for $5,000. Also, make the incoming recruits a pension deal with 25 years and out.”
Capuano began his career in the 4th District at 11th & Wharton Street in South Philadelphia in 1998, which is near where he grew up. He has worked in 5 Squad’s stolen auto detail, worked as a plainclothes officer on a burglary team, and was later promoted to detective. He led 5 Squad’s Southwest Detective’s Fugitive Task Force as the officer in charge/team leader. Capuano said he was “the breacher.” In 2014 he was promoted to sergeant.
Capuano said the highlight of his police career was the apprehension of a suspect wanted for three homicides. He was working in the Southwest Detective Fugitive Task Force when one of his officers befriended the father of one of the victims. The father called the officer with the “word on the street.” Capuano and the officer were given information that led them to capture the suspect.
“We worked that night into the early morning hours,” Capuano recalled. “We resumed working early Saturday morning and we, along with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals, captured the defendant inside the projects at 22nd and Susquehanna Avenue.”
Capuano is proud that he took a truly bad guy off the streets.
“Police work is an honorable profession. You can go out and do good things for your community,” Capuano said.
Paul Davis is a Philadelphia writer who covers crime.