The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to hold Philadelphia prosecutor Larry Krasner in contempt for refusing to cooperate with a legislative committee investigating his possible impeachment. The panel, the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order, was formed amid rising concerns over Philadelphia’s crime rates, which have outpaced a nationwide rise in gun violence. More than 1,400 people in the city have been shot this year, hundreds of them fatally, a higher toll than in the larger cities of New York and Los Angeles, the New York Times reports. The vote followed a call for Krasner’s impeachment by three Republican lawmakers whose districts are far from Philadelphia. Krasner has been elected twice, both times by wide margins, on a platform that changes like ending cash bail, decriminalizing low-level offenses and reining in police and prosecutorial misconduct would make the city not only more equitable but safer.
Krasner has taken the position that the legislature’s investigation is antidemocratic and illegitimate, and he refused to comply with a subpoena for documents issued by the committee. The contempt resolution passed, 162-38, with the help of almost all Republican House members and 49 Democrats, including 10 from Philadelphia. The vote came on the first day of the trial of Eric Ruch Jr., believed to be the first police officer in the city to face murder charges in an on-duty killing. Rep. Josh Kail, one of three Republicans who led the call to impeach Krasner for what they called “dereliction of duty,” said the prosecutor’s policies, including dismissing some gun possession cases, sent the wrong signal to criminals. “The result of a district attorney who refuses to enforce the law is that it leads to a situation where people are not going to have a respect for the law,” he said. Krasner’s defenders say the Republican-dominated legislature has refused to pass gun restrictions that would curb violence and has weakened popular measures like expanding background checks. They say analyses have found little evidence that Krasner’s policies have contributed to crime.